Print and Go Back NBA [Print without images]

Thursday, February 10, 2005
Forward wants more PT, less turmoil

Associated Press

TORONTO -- The troubled Toronto Raptors have another problem to deal with -- forward Eric Williams wants out.

It's distracting. It's hard to sit there and watch everybody else blow up around you when you feel like you're being a done a major injustice.
Mark Bartlestein, Williams' agent

In the wake of another dispute between point guard Rafer Alston and coach Sam Mitchell, Williams wants to be traded to a team that will use him.

"No one is benefiting right now. This isn't good for the Raptors or for Eric," Mark Bartlestein, the agent for Williams, said Thursday. "If there is a deal that can be done, it makes no sense to keep him here. He wants to play. He [doesn't just] want to collect a paycheck."

Toronto general manager Rob Babcock didn't immediately return phone messages left for him.

Before being acquired from New Jersey in the trade for Vince Carter on Dec. 17, Williams averaged 35 minutes a game.

In Toronto, he's averaging 19.9 minutes per game. But ever since he was demoted from the starting lineup after a 16-game run as Jalen Rose's replacement, he has barely played -- including sitting the last two games.

Williams, who wasn't happy with being traded after signing with his hometown Nets over the summer, is also disturbed by the turmoil surrounding the Raptors.

"It's distracting," Bartlestein said. "It's hard to sit there and watch everybody else blow up around you when you feel like you're being a done a major injustice."

Eric Williams
Toronto Raptors
43 8.7 3.5 1.8 .430 .694

Toronto general manager Rob Babcock said Williams hasn't played because of Rose's recent strong play and because of the team's depth at small forward.

"I know he's frustrated and I understand that. I'm disappointed that I have to read about it in the media," Babcock said.

Bartlestein said another of his clients, Aaron Williams, also is disturbed by the turmoil. Aaron Williams also was acquired in the Carter trade.

"No one likes to be in an environment where there is chaos every day. It's just not enjoyable. It's not fun to go to work. Would you want to go to work where every day there is maybe a street fight?," Bartlestein said.

Alston and Mitchell argued during halftime of Tuesday's loss against Cleveland. Alston didn't come out of the dressing room for the second half and was seen crying as he was escorted to the team bus by security during the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, Alston said Mitchell owed him an apology.

Babcock refused to confirm or deny that Mitchell challenged Alston to a fight.

Alston had just returned to the Raptors following a two-game suspension after he stormed out of practice last week.

"Do I expect Rafer to be happy right now? No. I understand why he is not happy right now. I am not happy right now. I don't think Sam is happy right now," Babcock said.

Babcock met with Mitchell earlier Thursday and talked about how Mitchell should work with Alston and Williams.

"Did we meet today especially because of the situation with Rafer and Eric? That was one of the key things that we talked about, absolutely," Babcock said. "We're doing everything we can to address those issues."

In the last 11 months, the Raptors have fired general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Kevin O'Neill and dealt Carter after he demanded out. Babcock has been criticized for getting little in return for Carter, who seems rejuvenated in New Jersey. Alonzo Mourning, also acquired in the three-for-one trade, hasn't reported to Toronto.

"Everyone on the outside is saying this is a dysfunctional bunch. It doesn't look like a dysfunctional bunch to me," Babcock said. "Sam is a rookie head coach and Rafer is a rookie starting point guard and I am a rookie general manager. We're all learning about this job. There is a lot to deal with, there's no question."