Embry prepared to dive into trade waters

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

MILWAUKEE -- Now that Wayne Embry is in charge, the Raptors are open for business.

In contrast to guarded predecessor Rob Babcock, the new interim general manager wasn't shy in saying yesterday he expects to be a busy man in the period before the trade deadline on Feb. 23.

"We want to do whatever we can do to improve our team," the highly respected veteran NBA executive said from his home here in Milwaukee after addressing the team in the afternoon of his first full day on the job. "We're going to explore different ways of doing that."

If that means shipping out unhappy players, so be it.

"Personally," he said, "if a player would rather be somewhere else, I'd try to accommodate him."

With a guy who isn't trigger-shy at the helm, expect the trade talk to heat up. Mike James and Jalen Rose are assets and Embry doesn't sound like a man willing to lose James for nothing, as Babcock did with Donyell Marshall last season.

James has the option to become a free agent after this season, but the Raptors have a chance to re-sign him.

"He is a proven talent." Embry said of James. "You can't ignore proven talent."

In other words, Embry wants to make the most out of his asset, be it by trade or re-signing him.

As for Rose, who is not washed up just yet, Embry said he has noticed the improvement in the veteran swingman's game recently. This could help the Raptors make a more favourable deal for the expiring contract of New York Knicks veteran Penny Hardaway, a salary match with Rose.

"He is playing more minutes now," Embry said. "He is a proven player as well. You have to look at all the possible options."

Having said all that, none of this means Embry will swing a big deal. He is well aware it takes at least two to tango and said he wouldn't be surprised if nothing goes down.

"I've been here a long time," he said. "It takes two, three or four teams to get something done."

Meanwhile, don't expect the team to hurry to replace Babcock on a full-time basis. The best candidates could well be working with other teams at the moment.

Sports Illustrated named Denver Nuggets GM Keke Vandeweghe as the top candidate. Vandeweghe is considered a lame duck without a long-term contract in Denver and his name was linked to the Raptors' job earlier this season.


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