It's status quo for Raptors

Toronto Raptors GM Rob Babcock (pictured) and head coach Sam Mitchell can breathe a sigh of relief...

Toronto Raptors GM Rob Babcock (pictured) and head coach Sam Mitchell can breathe a sigh of relief as both of their jobs are safe for now. (Toronto Sun File/David Lucas)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

HOUSTON -- Sam Mitchell and Rob Babcock can breathe easy, knowing their boss plans to let them do their jobs for the rest of the season.

When asked if the jobs of the Raptors coach and general manager are safe for the rest of the year, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president Richard Peddie said yesterday, "Our process is to evaluate everybody at the end of the year."

Despite calls for heads to roll in Raptorland from fans and rumours circulating about potential successors for Mitchell or Babcock with the team's record sitting at a league-worst 5-20, Peddie is not about to make any rash decisions. No matter the circumstances, Peddie doesn't see the benefits of making changes in mid-season.

"There are a smaller pool of people without jobs," Peddie said. "I'm just not a fan of it (making a mid-season change). Philosophically, I don't believe in it."

Peddie won't delve into specifics when asked about his goals for the rest of the season. He simply said he expects the team to show improvement.

"With the drafting (of Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham) and the trades (specifically bringing in Mike James for the unpredictable Rafer Alston), the hope is to be better at the end of the year than the start of the year," Peddie said. "And I hope we're dramatically better because we were so horrible at the start."

Of course, with the playoffs a distant dream, MLSEL is left with one option.

"We're selling hope," Peddie said. "I admit that."

Peddie, for one, sees reason to hope. He credited Babcock for his draft picks and signing point guard Jose Calderon of Spain and praised Mitchell for making the ultimate decision to bring in the experienced Gene Keady as an assistant coach.

Peddie also is impressed with the work ethic of the team.

"Sitting there with five wins, it is a surprise to us," he said. "But it looks like the guys are really trying. I think they are trying more than in past years."

The plan to give the rookies major minutes is not about to change to try to win a few more games. Peddie believes fans would be even more up in arms if the freshmen were not given every opportunity to prove they belong."

"If we were 10-15 and weren't playing the rookies, I think there would be more heat," Peddie said.

"It looks like we have some pieces, some good pieces. Now, we have to move toward being a contending team."


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