Raps spell relief C-A-P

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

Tone's tone wasn't exactly upbeat when contacted by the Sun last night at his Toronto hotel room.

When asked if he would comment on his trade back to the Raptors yesterday from the New York Knicks for Jalen Rose, Antonio Davis -- who goes by the nickname Tone -- replied that no, he would not.

Davis was then pressed on whether he would report to the Raptors, a legitimate missive given the fact that he couldn't wait to get out of T.O. during his final season as a Raptor in 2003.

"What did I just say?" Davis said.

"That you wouldn't comment."

"Well?"

Hey, we tried.

The Raptors also acquired $10-million US in salary cap relief in the deal and gave up Denver's first-round draft pick in 2006, which will not be a high one, as well $3 million in cash.

Kudos to interim general manager Wayne Embry for another quality trade. Sure, there is a chance the 37-year-old Davis may retire. But even if Davis decides to pack it in, the Raptors still are ahead of the game. By dealing Rose to the Knicks, whose total payroll this season now sits at a Steinbrenneresque $126 million, the Raps have put themselves in good position to go after a high-priced free agent this summer and/or sign point guard Mike James to a long-term deal. That would make the club's young superstar, Chris Bosh, very happy. And if Bosh is happy, the Raps are happy. Bosh wants James to stick around and the Raps are hoping to ink Bosh to a big extension this summer.

Davis' contract, which pays him $13.9 million this year, expires at the end of the season. Rose makes $15.7 million this season and $16.9 next. That is major cap relief.

Cap issues aside, Rose's skills appear to be deteriorating at an alarming rate. He is averaging 12.1 points this season, his lowest point totals since 1998-99. Last year, he averaged 18.5.

Meanwhile, as Davis sat, stewing in his hotel room, Rose arrived at the Air Canada Centre just prior to the tip-off between the Raptors and Knicks, made his way over to the New York bench and hugged everyone in sight. He then sat down with his new teammates and grinned like a Cheshire cat for much of the first half, until the Knicks went into the toilet. (Neither Davis nor Rose were eligible to play for their new teams last night).

Rose wanted out and he got his wish. The Raps wanted cap relief, and they got it.

The only ripple in this sea of tranquility is the Davis factor. If he decides to play in Toronto, and it's hard to believe that he'll walk away from the $7 million owed to him this season, the Raptors get a strong frontcourt player who would be the perfect tutor to their young bigs -- Bosh, Charlie Villanueva and Pape Sow. Oh yeah, and Rafael Araujo.

But if Tone pouts, which he did for a long time during his last season in T.O, what will that do to the atmosphere in the locker room? The last thing the rebuilding Raps need is for the young guys to be exposed to a sourpuss.

And then there is Kendra Davis, who has made headlines more than her husband this season. There was the verbal confrontation with a fan in Chicago last month, which resulted in a five-game suspension for Antonio who charged to her, ahem, rescue.

And just this week, Mrs. Davis was charged with misdemeanor battery after she allegedly threw a cup of coffee at a woman during a traffic dispute.

The word during Antonio's first tour of duty in Toronto was that Kendra was the one who decided that the Davis clan no longer wanted to have anything to do with the Raptors and Toronto.

The Raptors may have not won on a regular basis this season, but at least the 2005-06 campaign has been sideshow free. No Vince Carter and his meddling mother. Rafer Alston and his cast of alter-egos are howling at the moon in Houston and the city's No.1 punching bag, recently fired GM Rob Babcock, is in a calm, quiet place, away from prying questions.

Embry is on a major roll.

Raptors' rookie guard Jose Calderon pulls up on his drive against Nate Robinson of the Knicks last night at the Air Canada Centre. The Raps rolled to a 104-90 victory.

REPORT CARD

B+ Offence: Four of the starters reached double figures in scoring and the Raptors were 24-of-27 from the free-throw line. Chris Bosh was his usual excellent self at the charity line, going 15-for-17.

B- Defence: The Knicks did shoot 49.2% from the field, but any time the Raptors hold an opponent under 100 points, it's a decent night's work.


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