MoPete not worried about trade rumours

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

DALLAS -- Morris Peterson is a happy-go-lucky dude who takes great joy in playing basketball for a living.

Not even rumours of a possible trade, which have been floating about for weeks, have thrown the longest-serving Raptor for a loop.

Peterson insisted this week that he hadn't heard the latest rumours until a Toronto reporter asked him about it, but said he is not concerned. Since being taken out of the starting lineup on Nov.14 for the first time in a year, trade rumours have swirled around the Air Canada Centre that one of the most popular Raptors in history may be heading out the door.

The seven-year Raptor becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, which means that the club would have more incentive to trade him if they don't feel that he can be resigned. There's also the chance that new management isn't interested in signing Peterson to a new, lucrative deal.

"It doesn't bother me," said Peterson, after working out at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, prior to Toronto's 94-77 victory over the Hornets on Tuesday night.

STARTING RUMOURS

"Sometimes people start rumours in the Internet and in newspapers because they want their team to get a certain player."

Fuelling the rumours has been the improved play of second-year small forward Joey Graham, who has performed admirably with Peterson out with a elbow injury.

Graham, who is sort of a younger version of MoPete, has averaged 12.5 points in his last four games and, just as impressively, has been much more responsible defensively.

Peterson, before getting hurt, averaged 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 28.5 minutes -- way down from last season's totals.

The bottom line is, as Graham continues to demonstrate improvement on the court, Peterson becomes more and more expendable. Peterson has refused to let any rumours distract him from becoming healthy and returning to the lineup, possibly as soon as this weekend.

"I was lucky early in my career to have veterans like Oak (Charles Oakley), Kevin Willis and Mark Jackson around to advise me about things like this," he said.


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