No changes on horizon

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

The Raptors will be men of action, not audition, when training camp opens in Ottawa two weeks from today.

At this stage, they don't plan on inviting anyone other than the 13 players currently under guaranteed contract, allowing them to move smoothly into dress rehearsals for their 13th NBA season.

"We can work right away on our main structure," senior vice-president of basketball operations Maurizio Gherardini said yesterday. "We can try and put in things that actually help our team game, work on similar concepts, offence, defence and use the pre-season games as a test, not as a way to try out new players."

One fresh face needn't worry about making the starting lineup. Jermaine O'Neal will be one of the most scrutinized players in Ottawa after the big trade with Indiana. He and Chris Bosh, the latter still on a high from winning gold with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics, will be the foundation the Raps hope lead them back to the first round of the playoffs -- and beyond.

"We followed Jermaine's schedule this summer, some of our team personnel witnessed his progress and we have the same wish as our fans, to see him as soon as possible," Gherardini said. "He's as hungry as can be and he's going to have quite an impact on this team.

"Chris had a great summer, put extra work into his game, which obviously showed, all of which will be great for the Raptors. No doubt he'll be ready to lead this group. We had a few guys in the Olympics; Chris, Jose Calderon (Spain) and Roko Ukic (Croatia), but each guy had his own book of conditioning to follow in the summer.

"A guy such as Andrea Bargnani had a (sinus) operation, but he didn't take more than a week off. So they should be in good shape, no body fat."

Australian-born Nathan Jawai came in the O'Neal trade, while former Memphis Grizzlies and European club player Will Solomon is another addition as a free-agent signing. Gherardini didn't want to delve too far into the debate on whether the seven-foot Bargnani will bump Jamario Moon from the starting small forward spot.

"That's what the exhibition games in October are for," he said. "Coaches enjoy this time of year because it's a period of teaching and experiments. Before you know it, October has flown by and you're into the regular season."


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