Bonner glad to be aboard

Raptors forward Matt Bonner aka The Red Rocket on November 26, 2004. His new teammates who think he...

Raptors forward Matt Bonner aka The Red Rocket on November 26, 2004. His new teammates who think he looks like a young Ron Howard has earned respect in the locker room and around the city. (Stan Behal, Toronto Sun)

MIKE KOREEN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 12:55 PM ET

Matt Bonner's parents can now watch their son play basketball from the comfort of their own home.

That was the promise the personable Raptors forward made yesterday after he signed a two-year deal worth about $4 million US with the NBA club.

Now that he is a millionaire, the Red Rocket's first priority is to move his family out of its two-bedroom condo in New Hampshire and purchase a larger home. Included in the new digs will be much-needed television access to all Raptors games.

"The condo association here won't let (his parents) put up a satellite dish and we have this crappy old-school cable," said Bonner, who shares the basement in the condo with his brother in the off-season. "They have to go to friends' houses to watch all the games and they feel terrible, especially when we're on the West Coast and their friends are falling asleep on the couch."

More important than the large raise -- Bonner made the NBA minimum $385,000 as a rookie last year -- is the fact he will return to the Raptors and a city he has embraced. If the Chicago Bulls didn't match the offer sheet the Raptors signed with point guard Chris Duhon earlier this month, Toronto wouldn't have had enough money to re-sign Bonner, who was a restricted free agent.

"It's a huge relief to get it done," Bonner said. "I don't have any fingernails left after the last three weeks. My whole priority was to stay in Toronto ... I had to have faith and stay positive and thank goodness it worked out.

"I tried to prepare my mind (for playing with another team), but I couldn't. There were too many good memories."

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said he will try to sign a minimum-salary player to be his team's third point guard, though he likely won't be able to do that until much closer to training camp in October when free agents realize they need jobs. With that signing, the Raptors will have 16 players under contract, one more than the maximum.

No worries, Babcock indicated. While he'd like to be down to 15 for the start of training camp, teams can carry as many as 20 guaranteed contracts during camp.

Lamond Murray, Aaron Williams and Eric Williams are possible candidates for removal.

"We've got plenty of time to work that out," Babcock said. "We're still pursuing trades and some of the potential trades could help us balance out our roster."


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