Deal with trades that are made

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

The deals the Raptors didn't make are not the issue. At the heart of the matter is the deal the Raptors did make. That's free game for analysis and criticism.

There has been much hand-wringing in Toronto over the past week about a possible trade Raptors general manager Rob Babcock allegedly investigated last fall.

It was reported Babcock turned down a deal for the since-departed Vince Carter that would have brought Toronto native Jamaal Magloire from the New Orleans Hornets to the Raptors.

Babcock has denied the Raptors and Hornets ever were close to completing a transaction. But whether they were close or not, is it fair to chastise Babcock in hindsight? Well, yes and no.

The point we want to make is, countless trades are discussed for every one that gets consummated, and any deals for Carter that Babcock may have passed up look attractive mainly in light of the deal he eventually took.

The Raptors wound up sending Carter to the New Jersey Nets for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two first-round draft picks. With Carter playing well and the Raptors getting nothing out of Mourning or either of the Williamses, discussions about the trade have been fairly one-sided.

Babcock is tired of defending the deal and we understand his argument that the evaluation can't be complete till we see how the draft picks pan out. But today, on March 20, 2005, the trade looks pretty bad. That is not the media's fault. It's just the way it is.

Given that, just about any other Carter trade that the Raptors contemplated, even for a few seconds, will be intriguing by comparison.

Remember, though, potential trades fall apart for many reasons, good and bad, financial or otherwise. Sometimes there are reasons for the scuttling of deals that GMs don't necessarily want to publicize. And timing always plays a key role, too.

Recall that for a long time last fall the Raptors weren't trying to trade only Carter, but they wanted to include Jalen Rose in the package, too. It was reported in The Toronto Sun on Dec. 9 that the Raptors had discussed a deal with New Orleans that included both Carter and Rose for Magloire and a truckload of other Hornets.

Why didn't anything happen? Well, the blunt truth is, the Raptors had said they were in no dramatic hurry to trade Carter, they were weighing their options, they didn't find an easy match with New Orleans and they thought they might be able to do better.

Looking back, we still have to wonder about the impact of a story that appeared in a Seattle-area newspaper which accused Carter of tipping off an in-bounds play to the Seattle bench during a Raptors-Sonics game in Toronto on Nov. 19. Whether Carter did anything wrong or not, Babcock was contacted about the story early in the week of Dec. 12, and he knew the story was being published on Dec. 19. Carter was traded on Dec. 17.

We're not naive enough to think the accusations against Carter were the driving force behind the deal. But we do wonder if the story acted as a bit of a last straw, lighting a fire under Babcock to get Carter out of town before the flames engulfed the team. For the record, Babcock has denied the Seattle story had anything to do with the trading of Carter.

It is fascinating to see how some Torontonians have reacted emotionally at the mere thought of Magloire joining the Raptors. Whenever Magloire has come back to Toronto for games in recent years, the greeting he has received at the Air Canada Centre has been disappointingly tepid. And that includes last season, after Magloire had played so well in the NBA all-star game.

RELEVANT

Be that as it may, the Raptors did not make a trade with the Hornets. The Raptors did, however, make a trade with the Nets.

This is not meant as a defence of the Raptors or an attack on the Raptors. But you always can point to thousands of possible trades and ask, "Why not?"

It's far more relevant to point to the trades that do happen and ask, "Why?"


Photos