By Scott Lepp
The reigning East Conference champion Indiana Pacers lost point man and floor general Mark Jackson to the Toronto Raptors during the off-season. They thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. They could fill the void with Travis Best. They thought wrong. The 2000-2001 Pacers have fallen out of playoff contention in the East since the loss of Jackson. The Raptors, despite numerous injuries to Vince Carter, have flourished from the deal. Just when things were looking good for the Raptors, up came the trade deadline and the New York Knicks came knocking. When negotiations ended the two sides settled on a deal. The Raps sent Jackson and Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues to the Knicks for Chris Childs and a first-round draft pick.
There are pros and cons for this deal. On the negative side, Carter is currently fourth in the scoring race. That comes from having an unselfish point man, something you don’t see in the new generation of point guards. Jackson, who just moved into fourth place all-time in assists, could care less how many points he scores as long as he keeps Carter happy. With the Knicks, Childs was the backup to Charlie Ward, who should be a backup as well. That’s all Childs should ever be. His dismal stat line reads: 4.8 points, 4.7 assists and two turnovers per game over the course of this season. The plus side is the Raptors will have a little more speed for their running game. Also, this gives Alvin Williams a chance to cap his breakout season and boost his confidence even more. In a nutshell, don’t be surprised to see lob passes to Carter head over the backboard and into the seats.
Raptors’ GM Glen Grunwald redeemed himself, however. Since he sent Kevin Willis and two others to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Tracy Murray, Mamadou N’diaye, and up-and-coming UNLV alumnus Keon Clark, off-season acquisition Corliss Williamson was starved of playing time and, like any NBA player in the same situation, he demanded a trade. Grunwald was more than happy to ship the disgruntled forward in a move that sent the whining Williamson, Kornel David, Tyrone Corbin and a future first-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for role player Eric Montross and workhorse Jerome Williams. The Raptors came out on top in this deal. Williams is a vicious power forward who rebounds like Dennis Rodman and defends with intensity. Under the tutelage of the Raptors current starting power forward Charles Oakley, Williams should blossom with this opportunity, provided he develops a mid-range jumper.
What do these moves signal for Canada’s favourite and soon-to-be only basketball team? The Raptors should continue to rebound well, but execution and distribution will likely fall dramatically. Hopefully Toronto will be able to hang onto all-star Antonio Davis who will likely be pursued by the high-spending Orlando Magic this summer.