Tuesday , Jun , 28 , 2005 Oly Sandor

Rapotor’s Babcock Feeling the Pressure on Draft Day

Rob Babcock can’t make any more mistakes.

Last June, the Toronto Raptors hired him to be their new general manager and get the team into the playoffs.

This June, he’s trying not to get fired.

Babcock hasn’t done a good job evaluating talent. Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala were passed over in last year’s draft for Bryant Reeves’ Brazilian cousin: Rafael Araujo. Rafer Alston was a mistake and the club got very little for Vince Carter.

There was too much drama. Sam Mitchell, Toronto’s coach, publicly feuded with Babcock over Araujo’s playing time. Many of the players complained to reporters about the organization. And Jalen Rose even dressed in all black to protest getting demoted from the starting line-up.

With the Raptors losing games and making headlines for all the wrong reasons, ownership brought in a babysitter. In April, Wayne Embry was hired as the senior basketball advisor to the president. This means that Babcock has to start looking over his shoulder.

What can Babcock do to turn things around?

The Toronto Star is reporting that Babcock is going after Jamaal Magloire. This would help the Raptors in two ways. First, Magloire is from Toronto and his return home would provide the team with some good publicity. Second, with Magloire at center, Bosh can slide back to the “4” spot.

Last season, the Raptors were too slow on defense, so Babcock needs to acquire some athletes. At 19, Gerald Green has explosive hops to go with his long 6-8 frame. If Toronto keeps the seventh pick, they should draft the high school star. Indiana is looking to deal Jonathan Bender, while Joe Johnson, Larry Hughes and Stromile Swift are free agent options.

Babcock needs to buyout Alston and Lamond Murray. Alston is a talented point guard, but he struggled with Toronto’s media and coach Mitchell’s system. A buyout will be costly though. The former And1 star has 24 million dollars left on his multi-year contract. Murray may be easier to negotiate with because he allegedly wants a change of scenery.

The Raptors have to consider cutting ties with Rose. The veteran is eligible to be waived under a one-time-only exception in the collective bargaining agreement recently agreed upon by the players’ association and the NBA. Teams that are over the luxury tax limit can release one player and avoid paying the tax penalty from that player’s contract. Over the next two seasons, Rose is owed 31 million dollars. Waiving him would give the team some additional money to chase free agents.

Matt Bonner should be re-signed. The “Red Rocket” became a fan favorite by providing hustle and scoring off the bench. Bonner, a restricted free agent, will get some decent money from the club.

It’s been a rough year for Rob Babcock. The Raptors’ GM will be looking for a new job if he doesn’t turn things around.

By Oly Sandor. Oly is an NBA analyst and a free-lance journalist based out of Vancouver, Canada. Even after watching his hometown Grizzlies pay Bryant Reeves 66 million dollars, Oly’s passion for hoops couldn’t be denied. His basketball writing has appeared in basketball.com, insidehoops.com, eurobasket.com, hoopsvibe.com and Ballerz Magazine. Send him an email at OlySandorNBAGuru@yahoo.com.