Carter, Rose, Marshall must go

Updated: December 16, 2004, 1:48 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
  • Chad Ford's Chat Wrap with SportsNation on Thursday

    If you think basketball is already a tough sell in Canada, wait until you check out this year's Raptors.

    This spring, when Toronto decided to clean house in the front office, the Jack McCloskey-led search party got an interesting response to its grand quest for a new GM – lots of "Thanks, but no thanks" from some of the brightest young minds in the NBA.

    Why? The job description sounded a little like a "Mission Impossible" episode.

    The new GM's mission, if he chose to accept it, included:

    • Making wholesale changes to a team that is nearly $20 million over the cap for the next three seasons.
    • Finding a way to trade Vince Carter, the most popular player in franchise history, without alienating season-ticket holders.
    • Discovering a new home for Jalen Rose, an overpaid, shot-happy 31-year-old swingman who had recently been dumped from the lowly Bulls.
    • Uncovering a starting-caliber center and point guard in free agency for just $4.9 million.
    • Making a lottery draft choice with less than a month of prep time.
    • Hiring the team's third new coach in the past three years.

    A quarter of the way into the season, much of the work in Toronto remains undone. There were no major changes to the team. Both Carter and Rose are sulking on the bench.

    The Raptors' starting-caliber center was Loren Woods, a journeyman with a history of flakiness. Their starting-caliber point guard was Rafer Alston, a journeyman with a history of letting his street game interfere with his NBA game.

    The lottery choice was Rafael Araujo, a big, skilled center, whom the Raptors drafted about 10 spots higher than anyone expected. He's averaging 8.2 minute per game.

    Their new coach – former Timberwolves swingman Sam Mitchell – is a guy without any previous head coaching experience.

    The result? Only one move has paid any dividends. Alston is having a career year and looks like he's toned his game down enough to be a good point guard in the league.

    The rest? Disaster. Mitchell has alienated many of his players with his no-nonsense, blast-them-in-the-media approach. Everyone from the bad guys like Carter and Rose to the good guys like Alston and Chris Bosh has felt his wrath. Carter was reduced to a role player before hurting his Achilles. Rose plays and acts like a dead-man walking. Woods looks awesome one minute, terrible the next.

    The team has lost 9 of its last 11.

    Meanwhile the new GM, Rob Babcock, continues to … well … wait might be the best word. He's had several deals on the table for both Carter and Rose but has been frozen by indecision. His inability to cut his losses while Carter was healthy and Rose was playing well has put him in an unenviable position.

    The question this summer was whether he could get fair value for Carter. Now, it's whether he'll get any value for him.

    What's a rookie GM to do? The franchise is a mess. Mitchell is losing his mind. The fans are fleeing the arena. The Raptors need change, and they need it fast.

    Insider poured over depth charts and salary-cap information and sought the advice of a few NBA general managers to give you the four things the Raptors must do to turn the franchise around.

    Chad Ford

    ESPN Senior Writer