Basketball

Raptors fire Butch Carter

Butch Carter may have led the Toronto Raptors into a playoff berth, but that wasn't enough to save him from turmoil in the locker room and controversy off the court.

General Manager Glen Grunwald announced Carter's firing Tuesday, calling the decision disappointing but necessary if the team is to continue its transformation into a championship contender.

"(Carter's) accomplishments in Toronto should not be discounted," said Grunwald. "However, in the end that success was clouded by off-court distractions that were disconcerting to ours fans and our organization."

Grunwald said no decision has been made on a replacement.

After leading the Raptors into the postseason, Carter was rewarded with a contract extension that takes him through 2002-03 late in the season.

But the team's improvement, coupled with the emergence of young stars Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, was often overshadowed.

A book he wrote with his brother Kris charged that Indiana coach Bobby Knight-- already under scrutiny for allegedly choking a player-- made racist comments when Carter played there, something other players on the team deny.

Then, just before the Raptors' playoff series against the New York Knicks, he filed suit against Knick forward -- and former Raptor -- Marcus Camby for calling him a liar. Carter later dropped the lawsuit after his legal challenge received widespread criticism.

During the playoffs, Carter drew criticism from team veterans Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley when he said the team lacked leadership.

Carter made headlines again after he reportedly asked for the general manager's title in his annual job review with Grunwald and team president Richard Peddie. Carter denied he was trying to take Grunwald's position, saying he only wanted the title for the influence it might bring in his dealings with free agents.

The final straw may have come last week when McGrady, on the verge of free agency, cited the veterans' unhappiness with Carter and the turmoil surronding the team as reasons why he would likely leave Toronto.

Since assuming the duties of head coach Feb.1998, Carter posted a 73-92 (.442) record, including a 45-37 mark this past season.

He joined the Raptors as an assistant to Darrell Walker prior to the 1997-98 season.

Prior to joining the Raptors, he was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks from 1991 to 1996 and a Bucks scout in 1996-1997. Before that he was an assistant coach at Dayton and Long Beach State.

A second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, Carter played six seasons with the Lakers, Indiana, New York and Philadelphia, averaging 8.7 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds.