Raps try to lock up Ford

MARK KEAST -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Point guard T.J. Ford and his agent said talks on a contract extension with the Raptors are progressing, which likely is helping Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo sleep better at night, considering what the Raptors gave up to get him.

Ford came to the team in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks in June, with Charlie Villanueva going the other way.

Colangelo wouldn't comment yesterday on Ford's contract status. Ford's agent, Arn Tellem, said in an e-mail: "We have had productive talks with the Raptors. We remain optimistic that a deal will be reached. T.J. hopes to be there long-term."

The Raptors have until Oct. 31 to sign Ford to an extension, or they risk losing him --if another team makes a contract offer -- as a restricted free-agent next summer. He'll make in the neighbourhood of $3 million US this season.

After a rough outing last week at home against Boston, when he fouled out, Ford looked more comfortable with his new team in Sunday's pre-season win over the New Jersey Nets.

"He was a few missed layups away from having a terrific line for a point guard," Colangelo said. Ford had 11 assists to go along with 10 points.

Concerns about Ford rest more with his lack of size (6-foot), and his history of injury, especially when watching him water-bug his way through the bigger bodies out there.

Getting to the basket actually wasn't the issue Sunday, it was that lack of finish that hampered him more. Ford was laughing about that yesterday.

"Everything hasn't come at one time, like it normally has," he said. "The first few games I had to get my legs and get the jitters out. Then I had a problem making the rights plays. (The New Jersey game) I was able to make plays. Now the shot will come last."

Ford has averaged just 10 points per games through two NBA seasons.


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