(prior to last night’s loss to Utah, Toronto mascot Raptor — who escaped the draft by fleeing to Canada during the Vietnam War — honors military vets Anne Wood and Duncan Graham, both of whom had been promised free Maple Leafs tickets)
On a day when the latest in the continuing series of Rose-related trade speculation was printed in these pages, Rose’s cell phones ” two of which were visible in the vicinity of his locker, even if he was not ” were ringing off the hook.
The Raptors, of course, hadn’t won a game since phones had hooks. So with confidence down all around, Rose seemed at least a little flattered by the attention.
“When you’re my age, there’s people younger than me that are retired and there’s players my age that (aren’t) in the league,” said the 32-year-old swingman. “So I guess it always means something when somebody thinks you could help a team.”
Exactly what will help the Raptors is anyone’s guess ” and no one is taking wilder stabs in the dark than a coaching staff that isn’t exactly making a name for itself by overcoming the club’s obvious personnel deficiencies. The optimists figured last night was the game that would turn the season-opening four-game losing streak into a one-game winning one. The Jazz are rebuilding, after all. But the Raptors, after a decent start, gave up a 15-0 second-quarter run that vaulted the Jazz into a cushy lead. And soon the over-riding feeling of this young season ” the feeling that the Raptors haven’t got a hope in heck of beating their opponent du jour ” had taken over the lifeless Air Canada Centre.
The young players, at least, are getting an education on being a Raptor in rough times. Last night Morris Peterson offered an introductory course on delivering a play-me-or-trade-me tirade.
And Rose set a fine example in dealing with theoretical talk of a swap, being non-committal but quotable in equal measures.
Rose’s would-be destination is New York, home to one of the few clubs financially equipped to absorb his $15.9 million (all figures U.S.) salary and send back a package. So, how would Rose enjoy playing for Larry Brown, a coach who frequently benched the player when they co-inhabited Indiana?
“Can’t speculate. I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth either way,” Rose said. “I ain’t going to get into that either way.”
For Rose, who is not a part of this club’s future and hardly enthused about its present, Toronto is a place to pass time, and last night he, like a lot of Raptors, played like it. As the losses mount ” as it becomes more and more evident that Rose’s usefulness as a go-to scorer might be the difference between, say, a 25-win season and a 20-win one ” the likelihood increases that he’ll finish the season elsewhere. This morning’s standings say almost anywhere but here is a better place.