Take the money and ... sit?

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Lamond Murray is making $4.5 million US this season and thanks to him, no one has to polish the Raptors bench.

He has not played in four games and counting. He has shot the ball 13 times this month, making four of those attempts including a couple of three-pointers.

When he checks his bank balance today, Murray no doubt will notice the bump of $187,000 US, or $18,700 per point, but he does not seem cheered enough to discuss the stunning good fortune that finds him getting paid all that money to practise and bump chests with Mo Peterson during pre-game introductions.

"Lamond doesn't think any good will come out of talking," a Raptors public relations person says.

You get the feeling Murray just wants to be left alone, what with Pape Sow getting into Sunday's three-pointer fest against Philadelphia and not Murray, whose strength is the three-point shot. Sow's greatest strength is that his surname would be welcome in any crossword puzzle.

And then the numbers come back again and you scratch your head and ask yourself three questions.

1. Why isn't Murray playing?

2. If he's not good enough to play at all, and by at all, we mean at all, why is he making 4.5 million bucks?

3. Where do I go to get a little of this?

Well, the first question is answered easily enough. Murray is a promiscuous shooter who delivers indifferent defence.

He is a perennial victim of the numbers crunch, a player who can give you 16 points a game so long as you don't mind losing.

Murray never has played on a winner in ten NBA seasons (he lost the entire 2002-03 season with a foot injury). You could chalk it up to bad luck until you find that the more Murray has scored, the worse his teams have fared. A lot of times it works the other way around. Translated from Latin, the scientific formula for this is ... More Points Good.

BIZARRE ALCHEMY

The only two teams for which Murray has played that managed better than .400 ball, the 36-46 Cavaliers and last year's Raptors, did so with Murray delivering 7.4 and six points a game, respectively.

Most players make a team better by scoring. By some bizarre alchemy, Murray does the same thing by sitting.

"Lamond is in a stretch where he hasn't gotten a lot of minutes but he's a proven commodity and we expect him to return to that form," general manager Rob Babcock said.

The Raptors insist there is nothing wrong with Murray and you like a club that takes the high road. I'd expect the same thing from my bosses if someone asked them why I'm covering so much high school wrestling.

"Lamond has worked hard for us, he has been really professional," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "But Mo Pete is playing well. Jalen Rose is playing well. Matt Bonner is playing well."

"As well as ability and desire, you need opportunity for success," Rose said. "Unfortunately, it hasn't really happened for him here. I like him as a guy. Hopefully it will happen for him, either here or somewhere else."

Murray, of course, doesn't have to worry.

His seven-year, $25-million deal expires after the 2005-2006 season. He'll be 32 years old.

SKIES OPENED

The skies opened for Murray when Cleveland Cavs GM Jim Paxson figured he would lose Derek Anderson, a free-agent guard who was bidding for maximum money, and swapped him to the Clips for Murray in 1999.

Paxson had a terrible team, needed to rebuild and wasn't opposed to the idea of losing for awhile. He figured Murray would at least provide a couple of highlights a night and he could trade him on the back end of his deal. Thanks to former Raptors GM Glen Grunwald, who wanted to bury a similarly burdensome contract for the even less-gifted Michael Stewart, it worked out perfectly for the Cavs.

The result for Murray has been a lifetime of security and the end of his development. He will take his money and leave quietly, disturbing no one, least of all the scorekeeper.


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