Raps GM looks at another import

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

LAS VEGAS -- Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors' dapper deal-maker, wasn't quite so dapper yesterday, nor was he in the position to announce any deals.

Because there is an NBA moratorium on announcing free-agent signings and contract extension until July 12, Colangelo would not comment on reports that he is very close to filling out his roster for the 2006-07 season.

However, word is the Raptors are going hard after veteran swingman Anthony Parker, who has spent the past few seasons starring for Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he won the Euroleague MVP award twice.

With Mike James talking with teams and now out of the picture, Colangelo is looking for an athletic shooting guard/small forward and Parker, 31, would fit that bill beautifully. A former first-round draft pick (21st overall by the New Jersey Nets) in 1997, Parker has been touted by many for years to be the best player outside the NBA.

Four other NBA squads reportedly are going after Parker, including the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers, but Toronto is said to have the upper hand given the fact that the Raps have sufficient cap room and the team's new assistant GM, Maurizio Gherardini, has such extensive contacts in Europe. Parker is said to be asking for $10-12 million over three years. His agent, Henry Thomas, who also represents Chris Bosh, did not return phone calls yesterday.

The other player Colangelo is said to be close to agreeing to terms with is Spanish forward Jorge Garbajosa, although that certainly isn't a newsflash at this point.

Colangelo arrived at the Raptors morning shootaround at the COX Pavilion on the campus of UNLV yesterday, minutes after touching down from Phoenix and seemed somewhat taken aback that Toronto reporters wanted a word, perhaps because the normally dressed-to-the-nines GM had a food stain of some sort on his wrinkled golf shirt.

But he did say that he hopes to have all business concluded in terms of free agents signings as soon the moratorium lifts next week. He reiterated, however, that "his first priority" this off-season is to sign Bosh to the contract extension, which, again, cannot announced until next week.

It's expected that the Raptors have offered Bosh the maximum extension of five years (beginning the 2007-08) season) for approximately $80 million US. Colangelo said that the team has sent out "information and materials" to the Bosh family and his agent for perusal.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, that is to say, back at the NBA Summer League in this parched desert oasis, Colangelo has been watching his first overall pick in the NBA draft, Italian forward Andrea Bargnani, with keen interest, to say the least.

The Raptors have held a free agent and rookie camp during the past three days leading up to the start of the NBA Summer League and Bargnani has had his first taste of (sort of) NBA-calibre competition. Fortunately for all of those involved, there haven't been any whispers that the 7-foot Bargnani may be the second coming of Rafael Araujo.

"He certainly has looked every bit like the quick big man that we saw in Europe," Colangelo said.

"He has a tremendous quick first step, handles the ball well, know hows to make the right play, and has a quick release, when necessary, with the shot."

Colangelo said the biggest challenge for the still thin Bargnani is to learn how to play centre. The Raptors want to play a quick tempo game this season and it's important for the team's big men to be able to move from spot to spot in the frontcourt, with Bargnani moving from centre to power forward, as well as Bosh, in an effort create certain advantages offensively and mismatches during games.

Somewhat out of character, Colangelo called out one of his players during his media scrum -- second-year small forward Joey Graham, one of the most experienced players at camp.

Graham has a guaranteed contract for this upcoming season ($1.5 million), but his place on the team is not exactly etched in stone, especially with 2006 second-round draft pick, P.J. Tucker, another small forward, breathing down his neck.

"I would really like to see Joey take a position of leadership on and off the floor," Colangelo said.

"He should be looking at this as a prime opportunity (to step up)."


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