What did the Raptors pre-draft workouts yesterday at the Air Canada Centre have in common with a broken TV set? No shows.
A pair of highly-touted, draft-eligible players failed to make it to the Adidas practice court at the ACC to work out for the Raptors braintrust.
The Raptors originally were scheduled to work out 6-foot-8 French small forward Nicolas Batum, who is projected to go mid-way to late in the first round in next Thursday's draft. The Raptors select 17th and there have been suggestions that the athletic, defensive-minded Batum could be on their radar.
But while the 20-year-old Frenchman did actually make it to Toronto, and underwent a physical with team doctors on Wednesday, he didn't make it to the ACC.
"He's in town, he took the physical but wasn't feeling good (yesterday), so he didn't work out," said Jim Kelly, the Raptors director of player personnel. "But we would like to try to get him back."
Kelly wouldn't elaborate on what Batum's affliction was, but said that the Raptors did scout him at a multi-player workout in Oakland last Saturday and have a pretty good idea of what he can do.
"You never see enough of them, you always want to see more, but we do have a background on him. We followed him for a number of years, and we saw him in a work- out, but it's always better to have him in your own gym," Kelly said.
The Raptors also were hoping to work out 7-foot power forward JaVale McGee, but, according to Kelly, the Nevada star couldn't make it to Toronto because of passport issues, although there have been reports that his mother will not allow her son to work out for teams that pick lower than 12th in the draft.
The Raptors did work out a pair of probable mid-first-round picks, Syracuse star Donte Greene, a very athletic combo forward, and 7-foot-2 centre Roy Hibbert from Georgetown; as well as two Americans, forward Joe Jones of Texas A&M and 7-foot centre James Tyler, who played with the Halifax Rainmen this past season; and two Canadians, Loyola forward Mike Tuck and Northern Arizona forward Kyle Landry.
Greene, who took a lot of heat from Orangemen fans for leaving Syracuse after his freshman year, could go as high as 10th in the draft, but is not taking anything for granted and has yet to turn down a workout with any NBA team.
"I know a couple of guys that had guarantees (from teams in the draft) and were sitting in Madison Square Garden looking retarded because they didn't get picked, so I'm not too big on guarantees," said Greene, adding that he wasn't about to risk an injury or a poor season by returning to Syracuse.
"Growing up in Baltimore in the inner city and not always having what they call the good life -- if I have the opportunity (to play in the NBA), I'm going to take it," he said.
SAM GOES GREEN
Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell donated $50,000 to the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation yesterday, the single largest donation made by an individual in the Foundation's history. The donation will fund the planting and care of hundreds of large trees, which will be planted throughout Toronto.