Time is now for Wright

Antoine Wright has been somewhat frustrated by the injuries and limited playing time with the...

Antoine Wright has been somewhat frustrated by the injuries and limited playing time with the Raptors. (QMI Agency/Stan Behal)

MIKE GANTER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Antoine Wright is like a Raptors Christmas present hung up at the border with improper postage.

The Raptors know they have something coming eventually, they just aren't sure when it's going to arrive.

When the Raps obtained him from the Dallas Mavericks this past off-season as part of the Shawn Marion sign and trade, the feeling was the Raptors had addressed some of their defensive shortcomings. Wright, after all, had been a shutdown defender for the Mavs, though, the Raptors haven't seen any signs of that yet.

A slew of injuries -- right knee, left ankle, right elbow, right ankle -- have kept him from practising for a good chunk of his Raptors tenure. Unable to show much in practice, court time has been hard to come by.

In 10 of the past 23 games, Wright hasn't made it on to the floor. Some of those DNP's were injury related, others simply were the case of a teammate doing more with the time given.

None of this is news to Wright, who admits he has been somewhat frustrated by the injuries and limited playing time, but by no means is he surprised. He knows the two go hand in hand.

"Not being 100%, not being able to practise and get the reps and other guys doing well are all factors," Wright said. "You can't blame coach for plugging in a guy who is giving him more at the time."

In fact, Wright pretty much told his coach to do just that. When it became apparent that his playing time would be topping out at about eight or nine minutes a night, Wright suggested Triano go with one of the younger guys until he could put his health problems to rest once and for all.

Wright believes he has reached that point now and proved it to Triano with one of his best practises as a Raptor heading into the Detroit game on Sunday. Triano gave him an opportunity and liked what he saw against the Pistons, then gave Wright more minutes than he had seen in a game in quite some time.

"(Sunday) felt good," Wright said. "Get out there, play a little bit, get up a good sweat and still feel good the next day. It has put me in a positive place."

Fans could be forgiven if they interpreted all those DNP's coaches decisions as a signal of some discontent between Wright and his coach.

Wright always has been a vocal player and did not shy away from the microphones or cameras when the Raps were at their lowest earlier this season. When he sees a problem, as he did in the wake of a humbling 40-point loss in Charlotte he speaks out. When he sees players not being held accountable as he after a blowout loss in Atlanta, he speaks his mind.

"I stand by everything I said," Wright said yesterday, which wasn't surprising. What was surprising was that Triano agreed with him both then and now.

"What he said was the truth," Triano said. "Just look at the quote itself and perhaps not how it was interpreted by members of the media and what he was saying was correct."

Triano said he has never had a problem with Wright and doesn't expect one. Wright is one of the few players he has ever had who went to the trouble of calling him on the phone to discuss his play. Triano said communication will never be a problem where Wright is concerned.

Now that he is healthy again, Triano is hoping to find out what he has.

"I'm not going to make any assessment based on one game," Triano said yesterday.

Nor is Wright, but he's feeling much better about his situation today.

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos