Raps wish Villanueva well, just not tonight

MIKE KOREEN

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

It is one of those trades that Sam Mitchell believes will be, in sports jargon, a win-win.

The Raptors coach will not be surprised if second-year forward Charlie Villanueva builds off his solid debut with the Milwaukee Bucks and goes on to have a long, successful career with that team.

Likewise, Mitchell figures point guard T.J. Ford could be destined for a fine stay in Toronto.

In advance of Part 1 of the great trade debate, which begins tonight when the Bucks come to the Air Canada Centre for the Raptors' home opener, Mitchell didn't raise an eyebrow after eyeing the lines of both players in their respective debuts for their new teams.

"We knew Charlie was a good player, but T.J. had a good night for us," Mitchell said after being asked about Villanueva's double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) in the Bucks' 105-97 road win over the Detroit Pistons.

"We understood that (the Raptors were giving up a good player). They had a need and we had a need. Sometimes in life, trades work out for both teams ... it's supposed to."

Perhaps this summer swap will follow that path.

Villanueva, who exceeded expectations in finishing second in the rookie of the year race but also displayed inconsistency at times, was the promising player Raptors general manager/coach Bryan Colangelo had to sacrifice to acquire a much-needed point guard.

The speedy Ford was a bright spot for Toronto in New Jersey on Wednesday, scoring 19 points with a better-than-advertised jump shot and chipping in seven assists.

Ford was saying all the right things heading into his first game against his first pro team.

"I think it probably would have been more emotional if I would have got traded during the season," Ford said.

"What's happened isn't happening still. I'm excited to be a Raptor. At the end of the day, the trade made both teams better and it definitely helped my career, from the standpoint of the way I'm capable of performing and the way I'm capable of being a floor leader. It worked out best in my situation."

Of course, it's easy to say that after Ford signed a $33-million US contract extension Tuesday.

But the Texas product has been saying similar things since Day 1 of training camp and you can tell Milwaukee just wasn't a perfect fit for him.

"The (Bucks) helped me," Ford said.

"They put me in a good situation to come out and be around a great group of guys in a good organization and (be) able to let my talent blossom a little bit more than it would have there."


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