Don't count on Matrix return

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Whether it's David Lee or Hedo Turkoglu, Shawn Marion or even Linas Kleiza, the Raptors have to be very prudent in how they spend their money.

Toronto is among a handful of NBA teams with cap space, a luxury that cannot be overlooked in a fragile market where every penny is being counted.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that various names are being linked to Toronto with various degrees of substance.

The more names surface, the more unlikely that Marion remains a Raptor.

Despite his unique basketball skills, the word on Marion is that's he's looking to maximize whatever worth he has in the open market, preferably to a destination that offers either a warm climate or a chance to win a title.

The only reason Marion would have in wanting to stick around Toronto is purely financial, which isn't uncommon given most NBA players are driven by money.

Marion's name has been linked with the Cavs, who yesterday officially unveiled Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland faithful.

Marion would make a good fit with the Cavs, who can use a perimeter defender.

Marion and Shaq were the centrepieces of a trade involving Miami and Phoenix last year.

Turkoglu is an interesting proposition, but one that carries risks.

His ability to play point forward would certainly be welcome in Toronto.

But Turkoglu isn't known for his defence and his primary goal is money.

Turkoglu opted out of his deal in Orlando and is said to be looking at a deal worth $10- million US per season.

Portland is considered among the serious suitors, but Turkoglu's asking price is borderline insane. The scary part is that a team will give Turkoglu what he wants.

Lee is a very savvy frontcourt player who can play with his back to the basket or facing up.

He's a double-double machine, but the Raptors need a wing player.

The Knicks are said to be willing to match whatever offer is presented to Lee, who is said to be looking at a figure similar to Turkoglu.

It's difficult to understand why the Raptors would even contemplate offering Kleiza a contract or show interest.

Around the NBA, he's not well liked.

He does bring an edge, but the Raptors took care of that need by trading for Reggie Evans.

Regardless of which names are out there associated with signing with the Raptors, there's so much posturing and flat-out lying that goes on during free agency that nothing can be believed until an official announcement is made.

There's plenty of talk and players have agreed in principle, namely Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva with the Detroit Pistons, but nothing can be made official until next Wednesday, when the NBA is expected to announce its salary cap number for the coming season.

Marion has never been known as a team-first player and he never did find a comfort level with Jose Calderon, whose conservative style at times clashed with Marion's freestyle approach.

In addition, Andrea Bargnani will soon have to be compensated at a considerable price.

The Raptors aren't going to make a long post-season run and will at the very least compete for the playoffs.

They may even get out of the first round, depending on their next move.


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