Peterson high on Toronto

STEVE BUFFERY AND MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

The Raptors' Morris Peterson is an exception to the rule -- an elite NBA player who wants to play in Toronto.

And even more than that, Peterson hopes to spend his entire career with the Raptors franchise.

Peterson is enjoying a career season, averaging 16.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while usually guarding the opposition's best player.

As the longest serving member of the team, he also has experienced more than anyone the highs and mostly the lows of the franchise.

Despite that, Peterson said that he believes the situation in Toronto will turn around and that he would love to finish his career right here.

"That's almost unheard in professional sport," Peterson said, who is called Mr. Raptor by his teammates.

"Every year I've enjoyed this organization more and more, and I've really grown with it. I don't know any other team, but right now I'm happy with the situation."

DRAFT DODGER

Florida Gators star Joakim Noah's decision to return to school to try to help his team defend its U.S. national championship next year could have a major impact on the Raptors on NBA draft day.

With Noah, a projected top-five pick, out, the already supposedly weak draft class becomes that much weaker. The Raptors currently are the fifth-worst club in the league, meaning they should be looking at all the top players.

Italy forward Andrea Bargnani's name has been linked to the Raptors and he is the same height -- 6-foot-11 -- as Noah, meaning his stock could rise.

The early eligibility deadline is April 29. Top prospects LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas, Tyrus Thomas of LSU and Rudy Gay of Connecticut haven't announced their intentions yet, but all three are believed to be leaning toward entering the draft.

AROUND THE RIM

The Raptors have given up 50 or more points in the first half in 18 of their past 22 games.


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