It must be a case of addition by subtraction.
Raptors general manager Rob Babcock defended his Vince Carter trade yesterday, pointing to the Raptors' improvement since the deal in December.
"We're a better team now than before we made the trade," Babcock said. "That's the bottom line."
The Raptors acquired bench-warmers Eric Williams and Aaron Williams, no-show Alonzo Mourning and two first-round picks from the New Jersey Nets for Carter. With Carter, the Raptors were 8-16. Without him, they are 19-20.
"Over the course of six months, we had a lot of different scenarios come up," Babcock said. "I would say there were probably three serious scenarios that were worthy. There were a zillion that were just talks that never got anywhere.
"I'm not trying to dodge a bullet or anything like that, but you don't see full effects of this trade until you see who the draft picks are, what those draft picks could generate in getting a trade done or who we're able to re-sign that we couldn't re-sign because we didn't have financial flexibility."
Babcock said the deal with the Nets was "by far, without question, the best deal we could do. It wasn't even close."
With just 19 games left this season, the Raptors know their playoff push has to begin right now.
"Time is not on our side," point guard Rafer Alston said. "We only have so many games left to play. We've got to come out from start to finish and play with high energy and high intensity. Of course, you've got to play with a sense of urgency."
The schedule isn't really kind. The Raptors play seven of their next nine games on the road, including tonight in Boston against the Celtics. The Raptors begin a five-game road swing next week, with games in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and Charlotte.
Babcock is heading to Cleveland tomorrow to scout the first round of the NCAA tournament.