Martin wants back

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

The Raptors aren't really sure if Mike James really wants to return next season.

But there is a veteran point guard on the team who definitely wants to come back.

Darrick Martin, whose contract expires at the end of the season, said yesterday that he would "jump at the opportunity" to return to the Raptors, despite the fact that he hasn't played that much, the team will not qualify for the playoffs for the fourth season in a row and won't win 30 games this year.

"It would be ideal for me," said Martin, when asked if would like to return next season.

"I enjoy being the veteran on this team," he added. "I enjoy the role I have -- playing spot minutes when they need me. I can still play and be successful in this league and help young guys develop."

Martin hasn't played a lot, averaging 8.2 minutes in 39 games, 2.5 points, 1.4 assists and 0.41 steals, but he has performed well when called upon and has provided invaluable leadership to the young Raptors squad. Plus, Martin said he is certain the Raptors are a club on the way up.

"It's always fun to be with a team that has struggled and be with them when they start to make their mark in the league," he said. "That's something you can sit back and say, 'Wow, I was a part of that and be very proud yourself.'"

Martin also enjoys playing for his former Minnesota teammate Sam Mitchell.

AROUND THE RIM

Mitchell temporarily stunned a media horde yesterday when he said he is glad his injury depleted squad is playing mostly contending teams as the season comes to a close -- even though the Raptors are in the midst of a 10-game losing streak. Mitchell said that it gives his young starters, such as Pape Sow, Charlie Villanueva and Rafael Araujo a chance to learn and develop.

"They're playing against teams that our focussed and have something to play for," he said. "So, from that standpoint, to see how they play and how to react to those situations, has been a good thing."


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