Rafer wants to stay

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Raptors point guard Rafer Alston said despite the turmoil surrounding himself and the team, he is still happy that he signed a multi-year deal with Toronto heading into the season.

"I don't want to go anywhere," Alston said yesterday. "I signed long term because I told them I want to be here. I'm happy to be here."

Alston did admit, however, that the season thus far as been a disappointment, as the Raptors are still fighting for a playoff spot. Alston added that he is ready to contribute more once the club returns from the all-star break, and that means staying out of coach Sam Mitchell's doghouse.

"I'm disappointed with my actions of leaving practice and the clashes with the coach," he said. "I'm disappointed because I never had that in this league.

To come here and do that is disappointing.

"But no matter the circumstances, whether I was suspended or not, the next day I came to play," Alston added. "They can say he comes to play, plays hard and leaves it all on the floor."

STRETCH RUN

The Raptors will reconvene after the all-star break for a practice in New Jersey on Monday, followed by the first game against the Nets since the Vince Carter trade next Tuesday.

Most of the players will go home or to tropical locales to chill out this weekend. Chris Bosh (sophomore-rookie game) and Matt Bonner (NBAPA meetings) will head to Denver for the all-star festivities. Mitchell, who will go home to Atlanta, wants his players to chill out.

"My advice to them, for the first two or three days, is don't even think about basketball," he said. "You do need to get away from it at times."

Alston said the all-star break is a mixed blessing for the Raptors, a team that has been a running soap opera this season.

"We do need a break, but I don't think we need a break from basketball," he said. "It's a Catch-22. We need a break from all (the controversy). Everybody gets a chance to take a deep breath, sit back and reflect a little bit on what was."


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