Colangelo backs Raptors coach

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell will not be joining ex-Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. counterpart Pat Quinn on the unemployment line.

On the day Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. fired Quinn, Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo went the opposite way yesterday.

"(Mitchell) is under contract (for one more season) and he'll be the coach of this team next year," Colangelo said.

The second-year coach has said he is not concerned about working in the final year of his contract or being billed as a "lame-duck" coach.

"I do believe that Sam -- and I felt this at the very beginning and I feel this a month and a half into this process -- deserves the opportunity to succeed or fail with the group we're going to put on the floor next year," Colangelo said.

Colangelo did not hint at an extension, saying he will address Mitchell's contract situation when it is "appropriate." But Colangelo had kind words for Mitchell, whose team won 33 games in his first year and 27 in his second.

"If you look at the progress this team has made, the development of young players, if you go back to internal plans that were presented to the board about the goals of this season, believe it or not a lot of those goals were met," Colangelo said. "The fact Sam was the coach and leader of this group said a lot about the progress that was made."

NOTEBOOK FILLER

If Raptors point guard Mike James doesn't re-sign with the team after becoming a free agent this year, one of the best quote-makers in team history will be a thing of the past. He had some beauties yesterday.

"I can't make people love me, I can't people like me," James said. "Even Jesus Christ and all the healing he was doing every day, they still wanted to persecute and kill him? Who am I? I can't pull a hang nail out of my daughter's finger, let alone heal somebody."

Or how about this when asked about the criticism he has heard this year for his style of play?

I don't hold that against nobody," James said. "They say if it doesn't kill you, it's only going to make you strong. This year, I feel like I've turned into Samson."


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