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No shortage of holes to fill for Raptors

Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh (right) and Hedo Turkoglu laugh as they pose for a photo on Raptors Media Day in Toronto on Monday September 28, 2009. Turkoglu recently told a Turkish TV station that he is actively trying to be released from the Raptors.


It's as if friends and neighbours were gathered for the annual summer barbeque and someone fouled the pool .

There were some impressive young college-aged talents at the Toronto Raptors practice facility going through the motions convincingly as the club held its first workouts in preparation for the June 24 NBA draft, at which the Raptors hold the 13th pick.

In a draft that is considered relatively deep in talent, the club hopes, senior director of scouting Jim Kelly says, to find someone who can alleviate what promises to be a range of holes in a lineup that had its flaws last season to begin with.

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But what exactly those holes were going to be, he went on to say, was a moving target, and the source of the unpleasant backdrop to what is normally a day filled with possibilities.

"It's challenging," Kelly said. "Clearly we have some things ahead of us we have to clean up and straighten out, and that will have an influence on where we go in the draft as well as trying to find the best possible player for our team."

What could Kelly possibly be talking about?

The likely departure of Chris Bosh via free agency this summer?

The club's commitment of $17.6-million (all currency U.S.) to three veteran point guards for next season, none of whom was overwhelming in a starting role in what has become the deepest position in the NBA?

Or that small forward Hedo Turkoglu, after a season-long cameo as a free-agent bust, told a television reporter in his native Turkey that he wanted to be traded?

Straighten out is right.

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Kelly was doing the talking because Raptors president Bryan Colangelo has taken a strict "no comment" policy on the latest Turkoglu developments.

It's safe to say Turkoglu, who was given the first three weeks of the season off and at various times earned the franchise's ire for some off-the-court issues, including one in which he confiscated a fan's cellphone camera in a night club and another when he was seen in Toronto's Yorkville district after missing a game with the flu, isn't the franchise president's favourite under-achieving $10-million-a-year player these days.

But apart from the attention Turkoglu generated, it's hard to see how it has significantly changed the situation the Raptors face this summer. Turkoglu's trade overture just means he's in agreement with the Raptors, who would certainly have been looking to deal the 31-year-old and the $43-million he has remaining on his contract as he comes off one of the least productive statistical seasons of his 10-year career.

The options for Colangelo are a cattle call of the NBA's worst contracts - the four years and $80-million the Washington Wizards owe Gilbert Arenas come to mind, as do the four years and $51-million the Philadelphia 76ers owe Elton Brand.

None of which concerns the four National Collegiate Athletic Association stars the Raptors were looking over on Monday: guards Avery Bradley of Texas and Willie Warren of Oklahoma, and forwards Stanley Robinson of Connecticut and Gordon Hayward of Butler, who put himself on the draft map by leading the small Indiana school to within a rimmed out, half-court three-pointer of the NCAA title.

"Hayward's a bit of a puzzle," Kelley said of the 6-foot-9 small forward with guard skills. "He's a four, he's a three, it depends on the system he's in and where you plug him in, but he is a basketball player.

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A puzzle: Colangelo can undoubtedly relate.

While what happens to Bosh, Turkoglu and the point guard log jam won't be cleared up until July at the earliest, the Raptors indicated yesterday they might be in the market for additional first-round picks later in the draft to round out their roster.

They might need them.

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