Embry could be the guy

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Just over two weeks into his tenure as interim general manager of the Raptors, Wayne Embry has received more praise than predecessor Rob Babcock did in 1 1/2 seasons.

Now, more than a few people are wondering exactly what interim will mean. And more than a few people are wondering whether Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. will ask Embry to re-consider his original stance of not being interested in the the full-time job.

Embry, 68, a longtime NBA executive, politely declined comment when asked about long-term scenarios, simply saying he doesn't want to "disrupt the (team's) search."

"I'm committed to being the interim GM as long as they need me," he said.

Embry, however, has more than his fair share of support from people outside the organization. Many fans have expressed they want Embry to become the full-time man on message boards and in e-mails. Columnists from ESPN and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer have said the team might want to remove the interim tag from Embry's title.

KIND WORDS

Another interesting sign emerged when Antonio Davis finally reported to the team this week, four days after he was traded here by the New York Knicks for the rich contract of Jalen Rose and a first-round pick. Davis clearly wasn't happy with the Knicks' decision to trade him and there were rumblings he would not come to Toronto.

However, Davis did show up and quickly said kind words about Embry.

"Sitting down with Wayne was a great thrill," Davis, the president of the NBA Players' Association, said. "I heard a lot about him, knew a little bit about him, but to really actually sit down and get a chance to talk with him really helped me out a lot and really put everything in perspective. I look forward to having more of those types of conversations."

Raptors forward Eric Williams, who wants out, surmised the appointment of Embry as interim GM probably would cause teams to listen more carefully to the Raptors.

No-show Alonzo Mourning, you might remember, didn't exactly say the same nice things about Babcock when he was dealt here in the Vince Carter swap.

Embry is not a young man, though, and he is devoted to his family life and his wife, Terri. But that doesn't mean he can't do the job. After all, he is performing the role and making moves without the full-time title right now.

One oft-repeated theory heard around the Air Canada Centre suggests MLSEL could hire an assistant for Embry to groom. That man could work closely with Embry, giving him a right-hand man to ease some of the load. In a few years, Embry steps away and lets the younger guy take over.

Embry got the ball rolling with the Rose trade. Who is to say he can't keep momentum on the team's side during a potentially busy summer and next season?

MLSEL president Richard Peddie has said he does not want to hire a rookie GM and has added the new hire could receive the title of president of basketball operations. Right now, he has an experienced, respected executive, who once was a team president, working for him.

It never hurts to ask. The worst Embry could do is say no.


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