MILWAUKEE -- Sam Mitchell wants to make two things clear.
He is not the winner, now that Raptors general manager Rob Babcock has been fired and close confidante Wayne Embry has stepped into the position. And he did not orchestrate the dismissal of his boss.
"I think (the firing) had nothing to do with (the relationship) between Rob and I," the Raptors coach said last night after arriving here in advance of a game against the Bucks tonight.
"This is about the Toronto Raptors. What differences we had in our relationship between the coach and GM are minuscule. It's not even worth discussing."
The theory that Mitchell had something to do with the firing boggles his mind.
"I'm the coach, but who am I when you start talking about Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment?" Mitchell said. "I'm another employee."
While they certainly didn't see eye-to-eye during their 1 1/2 years together, Mitchell expressed sympathy and noted several times during an interview that it was Babcock who gave him his first opportunity as a head coach. Mitchell talked to Babcock yesterday and thanked him for hiring him.
While Mitchell definitely will enjoy working with Embry, he knows his job will be on the line when a new GM is hired.
"It's not the most comforting thought," Mitchell said. "But again, I've always contended that if I worry about trying to save my job, I won't be able to do my job. I've got to do the job to the best of my ability and let the (people) who evaluate me evaluate me. If they like me, they keep me here. If not, I move on and I have no hard feelings and no regrets because I like Toronto and I like the Raptors organization."
Mitchell does not expect things to become easier now that Embry is in charge.
"It's going to help. (But) at the same time, Wayne's got a job to do and I've got a job to do," Mitchell said. "Wayne and I do have a good relationship, but he is very forceful and demanding. I've got to continue to work hard and I've got to focus. There are no free rides in this business. Because Wayne and I have a good relationship, does that afford me some slack? No. I feel like I've got to work even harder. He said he is going to do this temporarily and another GM is eventually going to be named and that guy is going to judge me."
Mitchell does not think he will have increased power with Embry in charge.
"I love being a coach," he said. "I had no desire to be GM when Rob was here and (I don't) without Rob here.
"Ultimately, Wayne is going to make the final decision."