TORONTO – He was nowhere to be found in the fall of 2013. Geoff Petrie Jersey . While the first day of Maple Leafs training camp got underway at the Mastercard Centre in west Toronto, Cody Franson sat at home in his apartment, waiting for 3pm practice with the Ryerson Rams. He was mired in the second of three contract struggles, this one finally coming to a close on Sept. 26, less than a week before the start of the regular season. "It was really weird," he recalled of the experience. "Ive had a couple negotiations go close to the wire, but never where I anticipated that Id actually have to leave, pack up my bags and actually leave the rink the day before camp rather than just feeling like somethings going to get done. That was an odd feeling to wrap my head around. Its unfortunate that thats the way that it had to go, but thats the business sometimes." Franson remained a restricted free agent this past offseason and though it took the threat of arbitration, he and the Leafs were able to come to terms on yet another one-year deal, this one for $3.3 million. And so unlike last fall and the fall before that, the now 27-year-old defender begins what he agrees is the most important season of his NHL career without a contract hiccup to worry about. "I think Franny knows and feels that he has to have a better season than he did last year," said head coach, Randy Carlyle following the first day of on-ice workouts. "When a guy misses camp it can have an effect over the course of an 82-game schedule that he doesnt start well or he has more valleys than peaks. We saw that and we experienced that with Cody Franson for periods of time [last season] and hell be the first one to admit it." Franson describes his 2013-14 campaign as an inconsistent picture, on point some nights, not so much on others. He bounced between a rotating cast of defence partners and troubled defensive strategy, ultimately unable to fulfill the top-four role (and increased competition) the club had hoped he might be capable of assuming. His possession numbers were amongst the best on the team and he remained the highest scoring defender in Toronto, but he never quite found the groove of a year earlier, when he broke out with 29 points in 45 games while holding down 19 minutes per night. The stench of another collapse also lingered, almost to the point of no escape. Trips back home to tiny Sicamous, British Columbia this past summer brought with them the expected questions from friends and family, all curious as to how he and the Leafs could tumble so rapidly from a sure playoff position to yet another stinging miss last spring. "It just seems to be the common theme," he said of the meltdown, the third in as many years. That disastrous finish also left him wondering about his future in Toronto, especially precarious with new management in the fold. "When things happen like that you never know whats gonna happen," Franson said. "That opens a lot of doors that maybe typically wouldnt be open had we done well." His place with the organization has never really been all that secure. Signed to three one-year deals, each with a dispute of some kind, Franson has mostly been left wondering where exactly he fits in the Leafs big picture. And hed like to change that this season. In describing his goals for the coming year, Franson says he would like to keep up the offensive production, remain a physical presence, and become an improved all-around defender. Because the Leafs added Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak in the offseason, Carlyle may be able to employ him in a less demanding role, something closer to the third pairing duty and competition he excelled with in 2013 – be it alongside Morgan Rielly or Jake Gardiner. Set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time next summer, Franson has a lot riding on the year that follows. Its not a stretch to call it the biggest season of his career. "Oh, definitely," he said. "With [unrestricted] free agency next year Im out to prove that I can do the job that they need me to do. This is where I want to be. Im hopeful that something can get done. Ive got to have a big year in order for that to happen." Arvydas Sabonis Jersey . -- Even as Chris Paul remained evasive about his future, he did what team leaders are expected to do. Blazers Jerseys 2021 . The Mavericks were not going to let San Antonio beat them with 3-pointers, and they did not want Tony Parker using the lane as his personal playground.TORONTO - In a trade intended to maximize the value of a player, and contract, already on the way out, the Toronto Raptors swapped the partially guaranteed deal of veteran forward John Salmons to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Lou Williams and seven-foot prospect Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira, the team announced Monday evening. Toronto will also send a 2015 second-round pick to Atlanta in the deal. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri had been shopping Salmons and his cap-friendly contract through last weeks draft, hoping to turn him into an asset that can help the team next season. The 34-year-old can be bought out of the $7 million hes owed in 2014-15, the final year of his deal, for just $1 million if hes waived prior to Monday evening. Toronto was planing to cut Salmons prior to that deadline if a suitable trade could not be found. The Hawks are sure to do the same, saving $6 million in the process and adding to the cap space theyll have at their disposal this summer. Entering the final year of a reasonable contract that will pay him just south of $5.5 million next season, Williams is a low-risk gamble for the Raptors, hoping to add depth and scoring off their bench. One of the NBAs premier reserves when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers, the 27-year-old Williams has struggled to regain his form following surgery to repair a torn ACL in 2013. Williams averaged a career-best 14.9 points in his seventh and final campaign with the 76ers before signing with the Hawks as a free agent in 2012, sustaining the injury midway through his initial season in Atlanta. The nine-year vet appeared in 60 games last year, recording 10.4 points, his lowest mark since 2006-07. Another year removed from serious knee surgery, the hope for Toronto is that the 6-foot-2 combo guard can provide instant offence off the bench and bolster the teams depleted second unit. The Raptors ranked 27th in bench scoring a year ago. Although the acquisition of Williams shouldnt impact the future of soon-to-be free agent Kyle Lowry, as hes not considered to be a true point guard, the versatile scorer gives Toronto another option in the backcourt if Lowry or last years backup Greivis Vasquez are not retained. The move jives with Ujiris repeated philosophy of winning now while continuing to accumulate assets and build for the future. Wesley Matthews Jersey. Although the Raptors should flirt with the luxury tax this coming season, assuming they re-sign Lowry, Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, they were not expected to be big players in this offseasons free agent market anyway and with Williams contract set to expire theyll still have significant cap space to work with in the summer of 2015. Ujiri had targeted Nogueira, an intriguing Brazilian prospect, in the 2013 draft but was unable to obtain a pick. Nogueira was selected 16th overall by the Boston Celtics and flipped to the Hawks before spending last season in the Spanish ACB League. The 21-year-old has one year left on his contract in Spain and its unknown whether hell be permitted to join his countrymen Bruno Caboclo in Toronto this season. Like Caboclo, Nogueira is very raw offensively and needs to get stronger to compete in the NBA but he has strong potential as a shot blocker, addressing one of the Raptors primary needs. Salmons was acquired from Sacramento in Decembers seven-player trade involving Rudy Gay, averaging 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 60 with the Raptors. The 12-year vet was a big part of Torontos initial post-trade success and became a fixture in Dwane Caseys rotation thanks to his defence and leadership. He struggled with a lingering back ailment and inconsistent shooting late in the season and fell out of favour as the Raptors made their playoff run in April. Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough had a similar clause in his contract, permitting Toronto to waive him for $1 million this weekend. However, they opted to pick up their team option and keep him around for the final year of his deal, which will pay him roughly $3.3 million in 2014-15. If waived, the savings on Hansbroughs deal would have been minimal, as they would have used the bulk of it to pay a replacement. The 28-year-old averaged 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in his first year with the Raptors, seeing decreased playing after the arrival of Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes. He figures to return as the fourth or fifth big man in Caseys rotation. ' ' '