Healthy attitude

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

It turns out Morris Peterson is just like everybody else in professional sports.

He does not read the newspaper, yet he's totally aware of the rumours floating around his team.

And the rumour du jour in Raptorland is the one which suggests that Peterson is about to be shipped out, reportedly as soon as general manager Bryan Colangelo can come up with the right deal.

"I don't read the papers," said Peterson, who took part in a light practice yesterday after missing Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves because of a sore right hamstring. "I don't know (what's going on), but I've heard about a couple of things that people have been talking about."

MINUTES DOWN

The seven-year Raptor insisted that he wants to remain in Toronto, even though his minutes played per game have fallen considerably from last season (26.1 minutes this season compared to 38.2 last season) and he no longer is in the starting lineup.

The native of Flint, Mich., has long held a deep affection for Toronto, where he has set up a business and also visits regularly in the off-season.

"Right now I'm happy," he said. "I'm just trying to get back healthy, that's my main focus, so I can get out on this court and help this team."

No one within the organization is confirming a deal involving MoPete. But the fact that he does not seem to be his usual personable self and is a tradeable commodity, suggests that his days in Toronto may be numbered.

Sources around the NBA have suggested that a number of teams have inquired about Peterson's availability.

Peterson, currently the longest-serving Raptor, is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $4.6 million US, meaning that Colangelo probably will look to trade him if the GM has no plans to sign Peterson to a long-term contract in the off-season. In any event, Peterson insisted the rumours will not affect his enthusiasm.

"This is my seventh season (in the NBA) and every year you hear something about your name being in trade rumours. And that's just part of the game," he said. "My first year, my name was in trade talks and I was walking in the locker room, head down, and Dell Curry came up and said, 'This is nothing. Get used to this every season.' This is not something I'll let affect me."

Peterson, 29, has run into injury problems, first a partial tendon tear in his left elbow which ended his NBA Ironman streak at 371 games, and now a sore hamstring. His latest injury has been bothering him for a week or so and flared up when he tried to work out over the Christmas break at home.

"It's still sore," he said. "So right now, it's probably going to be day to day."

The Raptors, without Peterson and all-star power forward Chris Bosh, who is out with a sore left knee, have been on a big roll heading into their game tonight at the Air Canada Centre against the Chicago Bulls, a team that Raptors haven't defeated since Dec. 6, 2002.

In their past eight games, the Raptors (13-16) have gone 6-2 and are in first-place in the weak Atlantic Division.


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