GM has done his homework

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock heads into today's NBA draft confident in his preparation, and will not make a selection or trade based on desperation.

Still, there's a feeling that Babcock needs to make some wise choices in order to keep his job, even though he has three years left on his contract.

The second-year GM has been under the gun for selecting centre Rafael Araujo eighth overall in last year's draft. Barring a last- minute move, the Raps hold two picks in the first round, seventh and 16th, and two in the second, 41st and 58th.

Babcock said yesterday he is much better prepared for this year's draft than he was last season and is confident he will get quality players with his first two picks.

"I kind of approach (decision-making) like my job is on the line all the time," Babcock said, when asked if he feels pressure to atone for the selection of Araujo, who struggled in his first season. "I don't think I need to atone for anything. I did the best I could with what I had last year."

According to NBA sources, the Raptors and New Orleans have talked about the Hornets shipping Toronto native Jamaal Magloire to his hometown for Toronto's two first-round picks.

Other NBA insiders say the Raps would give up one first-round pick along with Morris Peterson and Aaron Williams.

The former all-star centre would be an excellent fit in Toronto's frontcourt alongside Chris Bosh. However, Magloire becomes a free agent in a couple of years and has made his feelings about wanting to play at home clear.

The Raps could sign him as a free agent down the road once a couple of veteran contracts, such as Jalen Rose and Alonzo Mourning, are off the books.

Babcock admits he has explored trading up and down in the draft as well as entertaining the possibility of trading draft picks for veteran help.

At the end of the day, however, Babcock insisted he is comfortable with his spot in the draft.

"You research everything, but I'm pretty comfortable if we end up staying with seven and 16," he said. "We're going to get somebody at seven that we're going to be happy with. I know one of the three (he covets) will be there."

The first two picks in today's draft, held by the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, respectively, almost certainly will be seven-foot centre Andrew Bogut from Utah and North Carolina swingman Marvin Williams. After that, it's wide open.

Babcock said he certainly would consider drafting a high school player with one or both first-round picks if they are the best talents available, even if that means his club won't get immediate help.

"We would like both players to step in and make a contribution right away, but if we decide to go with a high school kid we would do so because we feel his upside is significantly more than the other players."


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