Babcock underwhelming

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Rob Babcock is to understatement what Cyndi Lauper was to bad videos.

An earthquake to Rob Babcock is bad footing, a drought is a dry throat.

But yes, the Raptors rookie general manager said yesterday, he has been surprised at how rough a ride reconstructing, or perhaps, deconstructing the team has been.

"I knew there would be a lot of issues and challenges," he said. "Is it more than what I thought it would be? Yes. We've learned a great deal this year about our players, about how our organization works, about how our staff is working."

Yes, he has. They've been lousy. So has Rob Babcock.

Honestly, can't anybody run this team?

Yes, there are extenuating circumstances. Babcock inherited a culture of losing and a pouting superstar in Vince Carter. Carter was going to go at a bargain rate having lowered his value spectacularly in his final two seasons in Toronto.

But Babcock is on the verge of completing the worst season by a Toronto general manager in this city's sports history. In a town that once employed Gerry McNamara and J. I. Albrecht, that's saying something.

Yesterday, the first shoe dropped on Babcock.Wayne Embry, brought in as an adviser to Babcock now has the ear of CEO Richard Peddie thanks to a management reshuffle.

Babcock described Embry as a right-hand man and trusted adviser but if Embry is advising anyone, it's coach Sam Mitchell, who talks with him once or twice a day.

"I talk to Wayne every day," Mitchell said. "He has been great to me, as far as seeing the big picture and the struggles a young coach will have."

Let's see. Mitchell's star remains largely undiminished. Mitchell and Babcock are at odds over how to handle Babcock's prize free agent, Rafer Alston, a temperamental ball hog who is warring with Jalen Rose, by far the club's best player. When Mitchell banished Alston in Cleveland, Babcock backed his tiny point guard. Rose called it a defining point in the season.

Embry is roundly respected and has a great relationship with Mitchell who has the chops to someday be a fine coach.

And Babcock? Well, he has a four-year-deal.

His first-round draft choice, Rafael Araujo, is averaging 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds a game and is being speedbagged whenever he steps off the bench.

The Carter trade brought Aaron and Eric Williams to decorate the bench and a couple of draft choices and cost $10 million US to buy out Alonzo Mourning. Yikes.

Babcock made no moves at the trade deadline and will therefore got nothing in return for Donyell Marshall, one of the most coveted players on the block.

Lousy draft. Lousy free-agent signing. Lousy trade of the franchise player. Inaction at the trade deadline. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Babcock, by virtue of his contract, gets a second chance. He has, at maximum, a year left to fix this. If it wasn't for the long-term deal, he'd be gone already.

Forget the honeymoon period. One more season like this one, and Babcock will walk the plank. He will find the footing a little damp.


Videos

Photos