Raps GM in no rush to fill hole

Toronto Raptors GM Rob Babcock in a Thursday, June 24, 2004 file photo.   (SUN/David Lucas)

Toronto Raptors GM Rob Babcock in a Thursday, June 24, 2004 file photo. (SUN/David Lucas)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

Rob Babcock isn't going to fill the Raptors' final roster spot just for the sake of filling it.

The Raptors general manager is perfectly comfortable going into the season opener on Wednesday against the visiting Washington Wizards with his current 14 players, one under the maximum roster limit of 15.

Unless Babcock sees a potential rotation player on the waiver wire, he figures he is better off with an open roster spot.

"There is absolutely no urgency," he said yesterday. "If the right guy comes along, we'll take a look at it. But this gives us flexibility in a lot of different ways. If we want to make a three-for-two trade (down the road), we've got a roster spot."

Besides, there is no point paying some stiff to sit on the end of the bench or in street clothes. There has been speculation the Raptors would look for a centre to battle the inconsistent pair of Rafael Araujo and Loren Woods for playing time. But you won't find a Shaquille O'Neal-clone looking for work.

"Generally, teams don't waive really good players," Babcock said with a laugh.

"If a team has a really good player with a chance to be in the rotation, they are likely going to keep him."

As for head coach Sam Mitchell, he has the tough task now of setting the rotation. With point guard Alvin Williams receiving limited minutes as he returns from microfracture knee surgery, and forwards Aaron Williams and Pape Sow seemingly destined for minor roles, Mitchell potentially has 11 legitimate rotation players to work into games. That could be on the high side.

"We're not going to worry about that (the numbers)," Mitchell said. "When I look out on the court, I look at matchups and how guys are playing. If guys are playing well, you try to get them minutes.

"Obviously, I can't play everybody. You wish you could, but you can't. It's just going to go by how the game is going and how I feel and how someone is playing.

"The good thing about it is if someone is not playing well at that particular time, we can give someone else a chance, so maybe they can pick us up a little bit."

Forward Matt Bonner, who participated in most of practice yesterday after missing the final four pre-season games with a strained right calf strain, doesn't see the potential roster logjam as a problem. I don't think anybody is that concerned," Bonner said. "Our main concern is winning. It's going to be different guys on different nights and we all know that.

"We're just happy we have a bench like we do and have an opportunity to rotate guys in and take advantage of guys who are playing well."

The Raps will hold their annual open practice tomorrow (noon) at the ACC.


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