Mendez turns up Heat

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

COSTAMESA, CALIF. -- Juan Mendez wishes the Raptors well, but the Montreal-born forward sees a better opportunity in the Heat.

Mendez turned down an invitation to join the Raptors' team for the Los Angeles summer league, instead opting to accept a summer league spot with the Miami Heat after not being drafted last month.

"Why Miami?" Mendez said yesterday after practising with the Heat. "Because of the fact, they (the Raptors) went their own way and had their own goals for the team and I wasn't a part of it. Even though they wanted me on their summer league team ... at this point of time I had to do what is best for me and Miami is a great place to be."

A Niagara University graduate who led the Lewiston, N.Y.-based Purple Eagles to the NCAA tournament this past season, Mendez admits he was disappointed that the Raptors did not select him with one of their two second-round picks.

"It was disappointing, but you can't really dwell on it," he said. "You've got to move on if you want to be a (pro) basketball player."

Mendez will have an opportunity to strut his stuff in front of Raptors general manager Rob Babcock when the Heat faces Toronto in a summer league game Saturday.

"If you can't join them, you have to be against them," Mendez said. "I'm sure (Babcock) will be watching, but I have nothing against Mr. Babcock and nothing against the Raptors ... If I see them, I'll say hello. I'm not going to be hateful towards them. Their job is on the line. If they think it's the right thing to do (not to have drafted Mendez), so be it."

Mendez is not exploring European options yet. He hopes to play for Canada at the world championship qualifying tournament next month in the Dominican Republic.


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