Rumour mills heat up

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

The death watch has begun in Raptorland.

Giving the fact that the team is 0-9 on the season, it's no great surprise that rumours have begun circling concerning the futures of head coach Sam Mitchell and GM Rob Babcock.

ESPN.com columnist Marc Stein has kicked things off by suggesting that both Mitchell and Babcock are on "equally shaky footing" with the Raptors and that long-time NBA head coach Paul Silas, who is working as an ESPN analyst this year, is waiting in the wings to replace Mitchell.

Stein added that it is no longer a case of "if" Babcock goes, but "when" Babcock gets fired.

'Neither are true," Richard Peddie, CEO and President of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said last night. "Those are absolute, complete rumours. There are no personnel changes planned."

NEW GUY

Legendary Purdue University head coach Gene Keady has been with the Raptors for the last few days and may join the team as a consultant to Mitchell.

"I wanted another coach," Mitchell said. "Right now, he's just here observing. If I'm comfortable and he's comfortable being here, we'd like him to stay."

MOURNING FOR MOURNING

Raptors fans will get the opportunity to boo noted carpetbagger Alonzo Mourning this afternoon when the Heat tip off against Toronto. The former all-star centre refused to come to Toronto last year when he was traded from the New Jersey Nets. The Raptors eventually bought him out and Mourning then signed with the Heat, where he is starting in place of the injured Shaquille O'Neal. It's likely that Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell will start the big Brazilian Rafael Araujo at centre .

SAM'S PLACE

Mitchell understands that to beat Miami, the Raptors have to figure out a way to contain star guard Dwyane Wade.

"We worked (yesterday in practice) on our guys taking more of a challenge, being in a help positionbecause the ball is going to be in his hands 70, 80% of the time," said Mitchell.


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