Babcock must be fired

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Rob Babcock should be replaced as general manager of the Raptors, not only for the terrible job he did but for his unwillingness to acknowledge how badly he messed up.

In this case, one act is as disturbing as the other, and maybe just as inept.

The very notion that Babcock has no regrets after a season of stumbling, bumbling and poor decision-making can mean one of only two things:

1) the man is delusional;

2) the man can't fib very well or look believable doing it.

Either way, it's hardly a vote of confidence for anyone who cares about the Raptors today or at any time in the future. Lying is something every general manager has to do from time to time. It's part of the job description. But treating a loyal paying public as though its a collection of halfwits is more insulting than endearing.

By allowing Babcock to remain as general manager, the board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd. essentially is given tacit approval to the work he has accomplished in the first year on the job. And by allowing him to continue, the board would be empowering Babcock to continue on what he considers franchise building.

That, by itself, is a very dangerous contention.

President and CEO Richard Peddie is outwardly supportive of Babcock, which is not surprising considering it was his hire.

"It's still not time to give up on Rob Babcock," Peddie said. "I think he deserves a chance to get the job done. I like his values."

When asked why he would entrust the building of his franchise to someone who has already messed up the foundation, Peddie took offence: "I don't know if we know the foundation is messed up."

And therein lies the problem.

Babcock has Peddie believing his rationalizations. Repeat after Rob. Rafael Araujo was the right draft choice. "It's what we needed at the time," Peddie said. Rafer Alston was a good signing. "His statistics compare favourably to other available point guards." They had to trade Vince Carter, even if was for nothing. "Vince was on the disabled list. We didn't even know if he was going to play for us again.

GIGGLED ABOUT

"The immediate returns haven't been great," Peddie said of the job Babcock has done. But for some reason he's willing to stake his name and his reputation on a general manager who is being giggled about in NBA circles.

Long term, it might be a heckuva lot cheaper to eat the final years on Babcock's contract than to allow him to further destroy what remains of the Raptors' reputation.

Just about anybody in sports can sign a bad free agent, make a terrible trade, draft the wrong guy. Just not in the same season and not in your first year on the job.

The karma itself from the Carter deal should be impetus enough to realize this isn't going to work with Babcock. Not only did Vince lead the New Jersey Nets into the playoffs, but the Philadelphia 76ers made it also, rendering the Raptors' draft position less enticing.

The way Rod Thorn, general manager of the Nets, explains the trade is that the Raptors really wanted two first-round picks. The only way he would agree to that deal would be to include Alonzo Mourning.

The Raps agreed to take Mourning knowing it would cost them, but what they didn't get were the right draft picks. New Jersey had a Los Angeles Clippers choice, but the Raptors settled for a Philadelphia pick and a Denver pick.

The Sixers pick will be 16th overall this year and the Nuggets pick, considering their rise, will be a low pick again next year. It is not inconceivable that the Raptors won't come away with a single starting player -- even down the road -- in exchange for Carter.

At least the Chicago Blackhawks got Pit Martin for Phil Esposito.

Why, knowing all this, the Raptors continue to believe in Babcock is why this franchise is forever in turmoil.


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