Last-place Raptors fire general manager

Updated: January 26, 2006, 10:38 PM ET
Associated Press

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 proven."

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 firing.

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 forward.

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

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press