I’m not sure I can wait for tomorrow morning’s papers to learn what really happened in Cleveland. From the Associated Press :
Rafer Alston wasn’t around for the end of the Toronto Raptors’ 104-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wasn’t even in the arena.
Alston left Gund Arena during the fourth quarter Tuesday night after coach Sam Mitchell benched him with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter. “It’s like one big soap opera,” Raptors forward Morris Peterson said. Mitchell, who suspended Alston for two games for storming out of a practice late last month, was guarded in his post-game comments.
“It’s a basketball thing that Rafer and I have to sort out,” said the first-year coach. “Rafer is determined in his way and I’m determined in my way.
“He is struggling with some basketball things and I wasn’t planning on playing him in the second half. I expect him to play tomorrow and expect him to be a starter.”
When the Raptors played in Cleveland on Dec. 4, Alston was held out of the starting lineup after getting a critical technical foul in a two-point loss in Boston the previous night, then saying he would quit the NBA.
Alston came back to play 37 minutes and scored a team-high 20 points in a 105-97 loss at Gund Arena that night.
This time, Raptors general manager Rob Babcock spoke up for Alston, who signed a six-year, $30 million US contract last summer.
“Rafer didn’t do anything to warrant a suspension at all,” Babcock said. “I don’t think Rafer is letting the team down at all. They (Mitchell and Alston) have to work on their relationship.”
(Alston shooting over Cleveland’s Jeff McInnis, Tuesday evening)
Jalen Rose scored 21 points to lead Toronto, and had little to say about the Alston situation after the game.
“I’m not going to comment about anything except what happened during the game,” Rose said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to have enough people with a big enough mouth to eventually leak the story about what happened.”
I certainly hope so, because otherwise, its rather boring trying to guess which team Karl Malone might sign with, if he chooses to play anywhere at all.