En guard! Solomon

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

There may yet be some competition for jobs in this seemingly never-ending Raptors pre-season.

Up for grabs, it now appears, are the backup minutes to point guard Jose Calderon.

Those minutes initially appeared destined to find their way to Will Solomon, the former Memphis Grizzlies player who has spent the past six years honing his craft in the European leagues.

And that may still wind up being the case, but rather suddenly Croatian rookie Roko Ukic is getting some consideration there as well.

Through the first four pre-season games and an intrasquad game in Ottawa, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell had gone primarily with Solomon getting the bulk of the point guard minutes after Calderon. Ukic, meanwhile, has been undergoing a complete overhaul of his shooting stroke under the watchful eye of assistant Gord Herbert. His minutes have been comparatively small.

But the day after Solomon saw just seven minutes of court time while Calderon played the entire second half of a meaningless exhibition because his head coach was not happy with what he was getting from Solomon, Mitchell announced he would be spending the final four exhibitions getting a good look at both Ukic and Solomon.

"Right now we are giving (Solomon) an opportunity," Mitchell said. "I haven't decided yet because Roko is getting better every day. Roko is doing some things and I have to get him more (court time). I'm probably going to be trimming Jose's minutes back a little bit and start playing those two guys more so I can really, really get a good look at both of them."

From Solomon, Mitchell would like to see him be a little more aggressive on offence, but he knows he's asking a lot for a guy who is just learning the sets.

MORE AGGRESSIVE

"I want our guys to be aggressive, to attack," Mitchell said. "When you're first learning, you are just trying to run the play. You're not looking at all the other options. It takes time. He hasn't done this in a while at this level."

Despite his own lack of court time, Ukic still has managed to make an impression on Mitchell.

"He is crafty with the basketball," Mitchell said. "He's an excellent passer and he sees the floor well and he's always asking questions. During the game he sits next to Mike Evans, which I didn't ask him to do, but he understands Mike played point guard. Mike tells me that during the whole game he's asking questions about this and that, why Jose does this and why he does that. That's how you learn."

Mitchell always has been tough on his point guards and he always will be. The position is tough and it demands a tough makeup so there's no such thing as the kid glove treatment for Mitchell's floor generals.

"It has served us well since I've been here," he said. "The guys who have played that position have, at least while they've been here, played it pretty well. They put up numbers that they haven't put up in other places. They've all gotten better.

"We understand it's a lot for Will and Roko right now but that's the job."

Let the battle begin.


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