His contract is expiring and, sooner or later, Sam Mitchell will be dumped as the Raptors’ coach — and his ultimate replacement quite likely was on the opponents’ bench at the Air Canada Centre last night.


NBA sources insist Raptors bossman Bryan Colangelo plans to eventually hire Phoenix assistant coach Marc Iavaroni to run the Toronto team. Colangelo and Iavaroni worked together in Phoenix after the latter joined the Suns’ coaching staff in 2002. Iavaroni, 51, played in the NBA from 1982 through 1989 and started for Philadelphia when the 76ers won the 1983 championship. Before joining Phoenix, Iavaroni served as an NBA assistant under Pat Riley and Mike Fratello.


The other day, Fratello was fired by the Grizzlies, who also have stronginterest in Iavaroni. I’m told Memphis management will pursue Iavaroni diligently after the season. I’m also told, however, that Colangelo will do whatever he can to ensure that Iavaroni becomes the Raptors’ new coach. Colangelo usually gets what he wants.


Morris Peterson, whose contract with Toronto also expires after this season, has somehow entrenched himself in the doghouse of management and is being dangled in trade talks ... Ryan Howard, MVP first baseman with the Phillies, has fired his agent and may hire Leon Rose, the chap who represents NBA superstars LeBron James and Allen Iverson... Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, incidentally, wants to trade Jon Lieber and his salary and has, or soon will, approach his old club, the Blue Jays. Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi is eager to obtain a starting pitcher ... Once the New York Yankees trade Randy Johnson to Arizona, they’ll try to reacquire — brace yourself — Roger Clemens... And another veteran pitcher, Mark Mulder, likely will sign with Texas, although St. Louis and Cleveland still haven't given up on him ... Ex-Jays superstar Roberto Alomar is long gone from baseball but his older brother, Sandy Alomar Jr., hasn’t hung up his cleats just yet and likely will accept an offer from Colorado.


•The latest from the NFL-quarterback-dating-hottie department: Tom Brady and Lindsay Lohan, and Tony Romo and Carrie Underwood. What gives? ... And I’m sorry, but the number of games between the Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins this season is absolutely mind-boggling. I know these clubs are saving money on travel expenses but, jeepers, enough is enough. The frequency of this matchup shows complete disrespect for the fans of Toronto and Boston. They deserve better.