Raps eyeing Jones

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The Raptors are closing in on a deal with high-flying Indiana Pacers guard Fred Jones.

Word is the Raptors are on the verge of signing the 6-foot-2 Jones, 27. The move, expected to be completed within a few days, became a priority for the Raptors after Philadelphia 76ers swingman John Salmons turned down a five-year, $23 million US deal from Toronto Friday night.

The Pacers did make a qualifying offer to Jones last month, but it is believed the offer was rescinded recently.

Jones' deal is rumoured to be for a bit less money than Salmons'.

Like Salmons, Jones has played four years in the NBA and was a first-round pick (14th overall) in 2002. The native of Arkansas made headlines in 2004 when he won the NBA's slam dunk championship.

Jones, who played all but two games off the bench for the Pacers in 2005-06, averaged 9.6 points, 2.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 27 minutes this past season, while shooting 41.7% from the field. He also scored a career-high 31 points in a game against the Atlanta Hawks in February. Jones' numbers took a slight dip from 2004-05 when he averaged 10.6 points, 2.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

The anticipated signing of Jones is expected to be one of the final major moves of Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo's busy summer.

Also on the agenda this week is the signing of Spanish forward Jorge Garbajosa.

The Raptors then are expected to sign 2005 second-round pick Uros Slokar, a forward, and 2006 second-round pick P.J. Tucker, a swingman.

Salmons, meanwhile, officially ended his flirtation with the Raptors when his agent, Joel Bell, put out a statement, saying Salmons felt Toronto was "not the best fit for him."


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