Pape's day will come

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Raptors rookie Pape Sow has missed the last 33 games because of left knee tendinitis.

And if you buy that ...

The real reason Sow has not played is that there is no room for him on the active roster and the Raptors don't want to lose him by letting him play in Europe or somewhere else.

The organization believes that the former Cal State Fullerton star has a bright future in the NBA, as a rebounder and player with loads of energy, but he just isn't quite ready yet. So Sow travels with the club and practices everyday. He just doesn't play.

Head coach Sam Mitchell was asked this week if he feels sorry for his rookie forward.

"I'm supposed to stand here and feel sorry for someone making $365,000? To play basketball? To stay in shape, stay mentally read and physically ready to play?" Mitchell said, incredulously. "Is it hard (not playing)? Yes it is hard. We understand that. But we're compensating you for that.

"Eventually he's going to get an opportunity to play, but if he won't put the work in, then when he gets the opportunity he won't do anything. And then he won't have to worry about that $365,000, because somebody else will be getting it."

Mitchell acknowledged that Sow, and all of his young players, work hard in practice. He uses Indiana star Jermaine O'Neal as an example of a player who did the right thing when he began his career riding the bench.

"When Jermaine O'Neal wasn't playing in Portland, he was the court before anyone, working out," Mitchell said. "And I would go in the locker room for chapel, he would be in there lifting. That's why he's good. It didn't happen when he became a star, it happened those three years when he sat on the bench for three years."

AROUND THE RIM

The Raptors were originally slated to practice yesterday morning in San Antonio before moving on to Memphis for tonight's game at the FedEx Forum, but Mitchell decided to give his players the day off.


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