Stojakovic might be mentor to Raptors' kids

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:07 PM ET

TORONTO - There should be no concerns, no reason for pessimism and no basis for cynicism that Peja Stojakovic threatens to become the next Alonzo Mourning.

On the morning after a deal that wasn't made official until late Saturday, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo made his first public comments, discussing a trade that clearly was geared to the future and spoke on the status of Stojakovic.

Long past his prime, Stojakovic had to waive a portion of a trade kicker for Colangelo to complete a five-player deal with New Orleans.

"It was significant,'' Colangelo said of the monetary inducement. "Enough that it wasn't a bad day for him."

At 33, Stojakovic hardly fits in with what Colangelo is attempting to do with these Raptors, who are going young, are trying to develop emerging talent and are providing every resource for these pieces to flourish.

Rather than rush into any judgment, Colangelo is being prudent in determining Stojakovic's role in Toronto.

"Nothing is pre-determined," Colangelo. "I've had conversation with Peja and his agent. They wanted to know what was in our agenda.

"Let's get him here, assess him and let's see if he can help this franchise. He could help mentoring, he could help us win a few games in the process."

As of yesterday, both Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless, the two pieces Colangelo acquired from the Hornets in exchange for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks and David Andersen, were scheduled to arrive in town some time Sunday night.

Assuming they each clear their physical, which appears to be a formality, they should be available on Wednesday when the Philadelphia 76ers pay a visit to the ACC.

Maybe a player such as Stojakovic enjoys the city, enjoys playing in an up-tempo system and perhaps he even wouldn't mind serving as a mentor.

But eventually he will be moved because his future isn't as a Raptor, not when the future of the franchise amounts to clearing enough cap room for potential long-term gain and focusing on the present of developing talent.

Stojakovic has never come across as a punk, a role Mourning basically assumed when he refused to report years back when Vince Carter was traded to New Jersey.

Mourning has long since rehabilitated his reputation, which is good on him, but it served the Raptors no good when he pulled off, and was allowed to perpetuate his me-first agenda.

Maybe Stojakovic is able to dip into his past, when he was among the game's top shooters, and knock down a game winner.

If he survives beyond next February's trade deadline, it'll be nothing short of a small miracle.

Colangelo even spoke about the potential of a buyout, but he said he's willing to play this out and see where Stojakovic stands.

It's a wise approach and more than anything Stojakovic represents what Colangelo tried to accomplish when the NBA approved a deal that was basically agreed to in principle long beyond the rubber stamp.

"It's pretty obvious this trade was made for the future in mind," Colangelo said. "We are clearly in a stage where we assess where we are as a team and as a franchise.

"If the last four years were about building around Chris Bosh, I think the next four years is about building without Chris Bosh."

It's almost ironic that as Colangelo spoke about the future and the potential to be big-time players in an uncertain market, his future in Toronto is no slam dunk.

But no doubt, Colangelo's latest moves does give the team flexibility Ń about $25 million in expiring contracts and that Bosh trade exception that has been slightly reduced to $12.2 million.

"Whether or not we win, it's not the true issue right now," Colangelo added.

Even during Sunday's game versus a superior Boston side, the Raptors competed and played hard.

No matter how many games Stojakovic appears in a Raptors uniform, whether he eventually gets bought out or moved prior to the deadline, one doesn't get the sense that these Raptors are going to be waving the white flag in any game.

"Question?" Colangelo continued. "Is there enough talent to overcome the better teams? Probably not, but that's not what this process is all about."

If the right move comes along, Colangelo is going to pull the trigger because it's what he does best.

He's got a lot of future cap space and there's the potential to get a big-time player.

"I can't stress enough that we now have the tools to put us in that position if the opportunity comes along," he said.

When and if that moment arrives, no one knows because no one knows how the NBA landscape will look under a new CBA.


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