Long-term plans

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

At first, Mike James thought Toronto suited him about as well as, say, the Roanoke Dazzle of the D-League.

It goes to show you that first impressions can be deceiving.

The Raptors point guard, who was traded to the Raptors by the Houston Rockets in exchange for Rafer Alston on the first day of training camp, has benefitted from increased responsibility with the worst team in the NBA and is poised to turn that into a long-desired, long-term home.

"In the beginning, I was hurt," the undrafted James, 30, said of the trade, which sent him to his 10th professional team. "In the beginning, it was tough. I didn't really know too much about Toronto, the city. But they grasped on to me when I first came here and showed me some love and gave me an opportunity to showcase who I am as a person and as a player."

Turnover-prone and shot-happy at times, especially earlier in the season, James has done a better job of taking care of the ball recently while keeping up his scoring totals.

He has not turned the ball over in the past two games and has committed just five turnovers in the past five games after 49 turnovers in the first 25 games.

James had his best game in a Toronto uniform on Wednesday night when he scored a team-leading 28 points, had nine assists and zero turnovers in a 108-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks. With James cutting down his turnovers, it has allowed coach Sam Mitchell to put the veteran at the point and remove Jose Calderon from the starting lineup, giving the team more balance.

"The thing I was more impressed with (Wednesday) was nine assists, no turnovers," Mitchell said. "His turnovers have been down since he has been on this little streak. He has kept his turnovers down, he's not making bad decisions with the basketball."

James has started all 28 games he has played with Toronto this season after starting just 68 of his first 248 games in the NBA.

James is averaging 15.3 points this season, which is well up from his career average of 9.2

James has a player option on his contract for next season. In all likelihood, considering his statistics, he'll opt out and test the market.

"I'm looking for a home," said James, who started his career in Europe and then spent a season in the CBA. "I'm looking for a team, an organization, a city that's going to love my game the way I love it ... I want to just be appreciated."

James feels he has a longer leash this season after many seasons of not being able to play through mistakes. So what's the next step?

"Eventually, somebody is going to trust that I'm not going to leave the yard and don't put no leash on me at all," he said. "Just let me roam."


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