Still waiting on Williamses

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Raptors GM Rob Babcock could cite numerous deals that turned out worse than the one he made with the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 17.

Such as when the Americans scammed the Russians out of Alaska for $7 million, or when the Dutch purchased Manhattan from the Indians for trinkets and such. In comparison, Vince Carter for Eric and Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two draft picks doesn't look that bad.

Still ... forget the fact that Carter is averaging almost 25 points per game and has guided the injury-plagued Nets to six wins in their past seven games. (Last night, Carter scored 43 points as New Jersey beat Philadelphia 107-97 in overtime.)

It's what the guys who came to Toronto in the deal are doing that tilts the scales so much to one side.

Eric Williams was supposed to be the key acquisition in the Carter deal for Toronto, but the former Providence star has struggled, to say the least. In his past 14 games, Williams has averaged 4.5 points and has not started since Jan. 26. On Sunday afternoon against Dallas, Williams played five minutes with zero points. Babcock, however, insists that Williams will prove himself in the long run.

"He's a slasher, he's aggressive, he gets to the hoop, gets offensive boards, plays good defence, breaks up plays, scores going to the hole -- that's basically his game, that's the reason we brought him in here, to do those types of things," Babcock said yesterday. "Which he did do for us early on. I'm not sure exactly why, but he hasn't gotten back into the flow."

Babcock described the situation as a catch-22. Williams needs minutes to bring his game back, but it's difficult to get minutes when you're in a funk.

Aaron Williams has played all of eight games for the Raps, averaging five minutes, 0.5 points and just over one rebound. In that case, Babcock said it's just a matter of the Raps finding a place for him in the frontcourt. As for Mourning, it's pretty certain that he won't play in Toronto, although Babcock said that talks between the Raps and the Mourning camp continue.

Perhaps the two first-round draft choice could amount to something. However, last year's first-round selection, centre Rafael Araujo, taken eighth overall, has been another major question mark for the 20-28 Raptors, who currently sit three games back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Head coach Sam Mitchell keeps starting the 6-foot-11 Brazilian, but Araujo's play has been inconsistent. Time and again he gets in foul trouble early.

"When he first started, he played really well," Mitchell said. "Now he's kind of dipped a little bit, and that's just kind of the learning curve for a centre. It's a tough position."

Mitchell said that he continues to preach three fundamentals for Araujo to adopt, toughness, setting good screens and rebounding.

The Raptors are in Cleveland to play the Cavaliers tonight.


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