SBD/19/Franchises

ISIAH TALKS TO THE PEACOCK; ARE RAPTORS IN A FOWL MOOD?

          Raptors Exec VP/GM Isiah Thomas "admitted ... he's
     negotiating for a job with NBC-TV at the same time he's
     trying to cut a better deal for himself with team owner Allan
     Slaight," according to Smith & Young of the TORONTO STAR. 
     Speaking last night, Thomas "refused to put a deadline" on
     the talks with both parties, but a "high-level" NBA official
     said that the situation "should be cleared up by Friday"
     (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).  In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes that
     Thomas "is waiting to see what gives. ... [W]hether Slaight
     will pony up the okay to spend money, specifically on Damon
     Stoudamire ... and generally on the bevy of free agents
     available this summer" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19).  NBC Sports VP
     Ed Markey: "We have no deal with Isiah Thomas, I don't know
     where the report came from.  Maybe somebody at Isiah Thomas's
     office" (Michael Grange, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/19).
          A CLEAN SLAIGHT? In Toronto, Bill Harris writes that
     Slaight "isn't panicking and won't be pushed."  Slaight: "We
     have a contingency plan in place."  He "reacted strongly" to
     suggestions that he had vetoed trades or signings due to a
     "lack of funds."  Slaight: "Those accusations outrage me." 
     Raptors President Richard Peddie: "In my time here there has
     not been a single time when a salary request or player move
     has been flatly turned down" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19).  
          REAX: In Toronto, Stephen Brunt: "Perhaps Thomas sees
     the writing on the wall.  He doesn't have a close
     relationship with Slaight.  He has no relationship with
     Peddie.  It's his own dough that's on the line, and the cash
     calls to get the arena built are proving to be a financial
     strain."  Brunt adds "the biggest threat to the Raptors long-
     term success isn't one man's absence," but "it's an ownership
     that's so strung out financially trying to pay off the
     remaining franchise fee and finance its own arena that it
     doesn't have the wherewithal to compete" (GLOBE & MAIL,
     11/19).  Also in Toronto, Dave Perkins: "[T]he Raptors are
     this close to being in a fight for their very survival in
     this town. ... This is strictly about money ... Whether or
     not Slaight wants to pay for players isn't what matters right
     now; the cash is not there.  The cash is at Lakeshore and
     Bay. ... Both men will be painted as villains, but put the
     extra coat of the stuff on Slaight" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19). 
     In Toronto, Chris Young adds this "is one power play that
     Isiah Thomas can't win" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).  

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