Raptors decision looming

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

The intriguing question of replacing Andrea Bargnani with Jermaine O'Neal, or playing them together, will be put off a couple of more days, likely including O'Neal's homecoming game at Indiana later this week.

Centre O'Neal and point guard Jose Calderon remain on the injured list as the Toronto Raptors prepare for tonight's game against the Chicago Bulls (7 p.m, Air Canada Centre). O'Neal's knee injury is improving, but not to the stage where he could return Friday against the Pacers without some quality practice time.

O'Neal came to Toronto in a major deal in the summertime, but has yet to play his old team at Conseco Fieldhouse where he spent eight NBA seasons.

"Jermaine is day-to-day and working out on a regular basis (but) you don't want to throw a guy out there who hasn't had a chance to practice," coach Jay Triano said.

"You have to get at least one good one in and see how his knee reacts." Bargnani has asserted himself a lot more strongly in the starter's role, which is what the Raptors were hoping from O'Neal at the start of the year.

"Andrea's confidence has risen," Triano said. "He's not watching. Chris (Bosh) likes to isolate and once a game Andrea's flashing to the basket hard. He's a lot quicker than people think and he can get past the five man guarding him. He realizes he can get a jump shot, but also take it to the basket. It's re-affirmed what we thought (about Bargnani's potential) after Year One."

O'Neal has taken much longer to get acclimatized to the Raptors, especially on offence, with his knee hampering him in that department. Both he and Bargnani are almost equal in blocked shots now with more than 50 each.

"Today I'm concerned about the Chicago Bulls and I'll cross that bridge (Bargnani/O'Neal) when I come to it," Triano said. "I'll discuss it with both players."

Calderon (hamstring) is more likely to play Friday.


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