Raps are gripe for picking

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Memphis is known for it's barbecues, but that whining you hear ain't from the hogs. Welcome to your 2004-05 Raptors.

All season, the Raptors have been a team in turmoil. Vince Carter wanted out. Rafer Alston threatened to quit. Eric Williams asked for a trade and was bitter when it didn't happened. Lamond Murray ... well, actually Lamond Murray hasn't said much this season, but he looks unhappy.

It has been a season that constantly has tried the patience of coach Sam Mitchell.

But when the trade deadline passed last week and the Raptors put together a modest three-game winning streak, it appeared the club's collective unhappiness was a thing of the past. Tuesday afternoon's practice at the SBC Center in San Antonio was said to be one of the most upbeat in months.

That new sense of euphoria was short-lived, however. Following a 92-86 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday, one of the team's most laid-back and likeable guys, forward Morris Peterson, jumped feet-first on to the gripe bandwagon.

MoPete, who collected just two points in 17 minutes as a starter against the Spurs -- shooting 0-for-6 from the field -- lashed out at his teammates and coach after the San Antonio game for not giving him the ball and not devising ways to get him the ball, adding that it has been that way for most of the season. Away from the Air Canada Centre, Peterson is averaging 8.5 points per game and is shooting 33% from the field. At home, he is averaging 15.1 points and is shooting 48%. His frustrations on the road have made MoPete an unhappy camper.

You know what? Mitchell cares, but he is not overly concerned with Peterson's bruised ego, as he didn't -- or, so he says -- lose sleep over Carter's demands or Alston's threats.

"You cannot give everybody what they want," the coach said. "It's just impossible. Only five can play (at a time), and there's one basketball. All I can do is that whatever decision I make is based on what I think is the best thing for the team. Not for me, not for one player or two players, but for the team."

To Peterson's credit, he hardly ever complains, although Mitchell admitted there has been quite a bit of grumbling on his team this season about playing time, which often happens when the ninth-to-12th guys in the rotation are veteran players. Mitchell said he has the same message for everyone unhappy about playing time, just be ready when your number is called.

"When you get an opportunity to play, you have got to play hard, and it's not just scoring points. I look at how the team is doing when you're on the floor. If we were losing and we made ground and you were part of that, to me that's a plus," he said. "You may not have scored the points, but if you are rebounding and defending and doing the little things ... I wish the players would understand that."

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VINCE CARTER

SEPT. 16, 2004

ISSUE: Carter, once the most popular athlete in the city, demands a trade.

QUOTE: "I can spend the rest of my career giving guys a chance. It's time to move on. It's time to resurrect my career."

RESOLUTION: Carter is dealt to the New Jersey Nets Dec. 17. Dec. 3, 2004

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DONYELL MARSHALL

DEC. 28, 2004

ISSUE: Marshall, who plays behind rookie Rafael Araujo, expresses displeasure with his playing time.

QUOTE: "I've never been one to really complain but it has been frustrating lately ... I still feel I have a lot in the tank."

RESOLUTION: Marshall doesn't get shipped out before the trading deadline, but insists he'll play hard in the final season of his contract.

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ERIC WILLIAMS

FEB. 9, 2005

ISSUE: Rose complains after he is removed from starting lineup to make room for Eric Williams.

QUOTE: "I don't feel like I'm part of the team. Therefore I have to ask myself, what the hell am I doing here?"

RESOLUTION: The Raptors do not trade the forward, who refuses to speak to media after deadline.

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MORRIS PETERSON

MARCH 2, 2005

ISSUE: Peterson disappointed about lack of minutes and his role in offence in loss to San Antonio.

QUOTE: "I'm upset. I don't play in the second quarter and I have to come out in the third quarter and I'm not loose."

RESOLUTION: To be determined.

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ALONSO MOURNING

DEC. 17, 2004

ISSUE: Mourning is not happy about being traded to the Raptors in the Carter deal.

QUOTE: Mourning doesn't speak to the Toronto media while recovering from injuries in Miami.

RESOLUTION: The Raptors buy out Mourning's contract Feb. 11 and he signs with Miami Heat this week.

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RAFER ALSTON

DEC. 3, 2004

ISSUE: Alston threatens to quit after an argument with coach Sam Mitchell following a technical foul.

QUOTE: "I don't know if I'm a good fit for this steam, I don't know if I'm a good fit for this league any more."

RESOLUTION: Alston plays the next night, but was suspended two games for walking out of practice in January. Escorted out of arena following an argument with Mitchell last month.

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JALEN ROSE

DEC. 22, 2004

ISSUE: Rose complains after he is removed from starting lineup to make room for Eric Williams.

QUOTE: "I know I'm still a starter in this league, hands down. And for me to still have to go through the situation ... it bothers me some."

RESOLUTION: Rose returns to starting lineup Jan. 28 and has been clutch performer late in games.


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