Martin earning respect

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

He is averaging only 9.9 minutes in 16 games, but Raptors coach Sam Mitchell believes Darrick Martin has earned a place on the team for the rest of the season.

After Jan. 10, all NBA contracts become guaranteed and the Raptors have to decide whether to keep Martin or let him go. General manager Rob Babcock won't say what his decision will be, but Mitchell really wants him to stick around.

"That's something Rob and I have to sit down and talk about, but I know I would like to have him because, regardless of how much he plays, he's just a positive influence in our locker room, with the young players," Mitchell said. "He has been really helpful for Jose (Calderon). He spends a lot of time with Jose, getting him to understand what it takes to be a good player in the league."

Martin, who speaks Spanish, has taken it upon himself to become a mentor for Calderon.

Mitchell also appreciates Martin's presence on the bench and in the locker room, if only because it gives the second-year head coach a sounding board. Mitchell admitted that he'll often take off on the 34-year-old out of frustration, even if he's actually cheesed off at someone else.

"He knows who it's directed at, and I'm just getting my point across through him. He understands that and it doesn't bother him," Mitchell said.

"If I've been on Charlie (Villanueva) too much and I still want to get on him, but he's probably took on all he can take, without collapsing, then I start yelling at Darrick. But he knows I'm really yelling at Charlie," the coach added.

Mitchell said he played Martin's part under coach Bill Musselman in Minnesota.

"He's a pain in the ass, a pain in my ass, basically," Mitchell said, of his relationship with Martin. "We go way back, and we can probably say things to each other that a lot people can't say, because we played together and we have a mutual respect and we both want the same thing.

"He came up through the ranks the hard way and he had to fight to stay in the league and I respect that. And he plays with a chip on his shoulder."


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