Wright: 'What is my value?'

Sacramento Kings’ Tyreke Evans (right) goes up for a jump shot with Toronto Raptors’ Antoine Wright...

Sacramento Kings’ Tyreke Evans (right) goes up for a jump shot with Toronto Raptors’ Antoine Wright (centre) and Andrea Bargnani defending in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto Feb. 7. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

History has taught Antoine Wright to expect the unexpected, to not be shocked when a trade comes out of the blue and disrupts a player’s life.

More than any Raptor, Wright knows first hand the cruel business that is the business of the NBA.

As the Raptors gathered on Monday for the first time following the all-star break, it won’t surprise anyone if someone’s spirit gets broken in the days and even hours leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

The climate, on the surface, seems ripe for the Raptors to make some kind of move, even if it’s a small one, because so little speculation surrounds the team.

Wright’s name was quietly being bandied about in gossip a few weeks ago, but his recent play has silenced most of the conjecture.

By no means does Wright’s emergence makes him exempt from possibly getting moved.

He’s makings shots, especially in crunch time, he’s making stops and playing with the edge that brought Wright to Toronto last off-season as part of a multi-player, multi-team deal featuring Hedo Turkoglu.

He has an expiring contract, which makes Wright even more attractive to teams wanting to shed money.

The Raptors have depth at the wing position and options if they are so inclined to make a deal that improves their ability to win a playoff series.

Any rumour or innuendo mean little to Wright because of his understanding of the off-court games that get played.

It wasn’t always the case for Wright, but last year’s trade to Toronto opened his eyes.

He now is open to anything because he knows anything can happen, even when people say that nothing will happen.

“I’m kind of numb to the feeling,’’ Wright began when asked about the days that lead up to the trade deadline. “You have to expect anything. You know that you’re tradeable.”

Two years ago this Thursday, Wright was dealt to Dallas from New Jersey.

The Nets were ridding themselves of their franchise pieces and first jettisoned Jason Kidd. Wright was merely a throw-in to make the deal work.

Last year’s trade from the Mavs to the Raptors was different because Wright was no longer viewed as a piece, but rather as an important trade dimension.

When the Raptors were redoing their roster, they needed a perimeter defender who was both mentally and physically tough.

Wright was the right piece in the big puzzle.

“Everything changed when I was traded from Dallas,’’ Wright said. “I knew that trade had more to do with my value.

“After that happened, I began to look at the NBA in a whole new different light.

Now, I look at everything and I say to myself: ‘What is my value?’

“Things like that play a factor in how a player views the trade deadline.”

Wright knew that Devean George, who was included in the Dallas deal, wasn’t going to be part of Toronto’s plans.

Wright was, well, right because the Raptors sent the aging veteran to Golden State for Marco Belinelli.

“It’s humbling the first time you get traded,’’ Wright said. “You get traded the second time and you begin to understand the market better. You start to realize what teams think of you from a league-wide perspective.”

Wright is a player any team would want because he leaves everything out on the floor. He’s tough and he’s fearless.

It speaks to the team’s soft underbelly when word leaked earlier in the season that Wright’s hard-nosed mentality rubbed some the wrong way.

Whatever rift that may have existed has been cleaned up, or at the very least some level of compromise has been reached.

The fact remains that Wright knows he may get the call — again — that he has been traded.

Another player who falls into the same category is Amir Johnson, who was traded twice within a two-month span last summer.

Like Wright, Johnson’s contract expires this summer.

When one looks at the Raptors roster moving forward beyond this season, neither Wright nor Johnson would seem to be a fit because of an excess of bodies and money.

“I enjoy being in Toronto,’’ Johnson said. “As a player, all you can do is play hard and try to have an impact, no matter where you are.”

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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