Last-place Raptors fire general manager

1/26/2006 - Toronto Raptors

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors fired general manager Rob
Babcock on Thursday, saying they should have hired someone with
more experience.

Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, fired him a year and a half after hiring him.

The Raptors are 14-29 -- fourth-worst in the league.

Babcock made many questionable moves during his brief tenure, including receiving little in return when he traded All-Star Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets last season. His first round draft
pick in the 2004 draft -- center Rafael Araujo -- has been a bust.

"I'm disappointed that Rob was the wrong choice for us,"
Peddie said. "In hindsight, we should have gone with someone more

Babcock was shocked by the decision.

"I was very surprised. I had no idea this was coming," Babcock
said. "They told me they want someone with more experience."

Babcock acknowledged selecting Araujo with the eighth pick didn't work out, but he defended the Carter trade in which he received Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two first-round draft picks. Mourning never reported to Toronto and they bought out his contract.

"That was the best trade out there," Babcock said. "There was
no better trade."

Babcock said he didn't feel he was in over his head.

"I was very confident," he said. "I wish I had been given
more of an opportunity."

Wayne Embry, Peddie's senior basketball adviser, will take over
for Babcock on an interim basis. Embry said he agreed with the

Embry said he wasn't interested in the job long term.

Peddie said they would hire a proven NBA executive and possibly
give him the additional role of team president.

"We're 10 or 11 years old now. We can't go with another rookie.
There is too much at stake," Peddie said.

Attendance at the Air Canada Centre has plummeted as fans have
become fed up with the Raptors' play. But Peddie said it had more
to do with finding someone who had better leadership skills going

Babcock was a longtime executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves
before Toronto hired him as a rookie general manager.