BOSTON -- Fred Jones never really had a chance to compete for a spot in the Raptors starting lineup, but you will not hear him complaining.
The high-flying newcomer, who has impressed during the pre-season with an average of 16 points per game heading into a road contest last night against the Boston Celtics, is more than happy being one of the go-to guys on a surging second unit.
"I'm here to win -- win games," said Jones, who left the Indiana Pacers to sign with the Raptors this summer.
"That's the only thing that matters. However they're going to best use me is fine. I have no complaints. I'm happy to be in a situation where I can play and contribute. I haven't been in that situation lately (in his four years in Indiana)."
Coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday he basically knew what he was going to do with his starting lineup from Day 1 of training camp. The pre-camp talk had Jones battling with fellow free agent pickup Anthony Parker for a spot in the Raptors starting lineup.
But in Mitchell's mind, the decision was made before the Raptors played their first pre-season game. While Jones has put up better numbers than Parker, Mitchell sees no need to make a change just for the sake of making a change. After all, his team entered last night as the only undefeated squad in the Eastern Conference. When the regular season tips off next Wednesday in New Jersey against the Nets, expect Parker, Chris Bosh, Rasho Nesterovic, Morris Peterson and T.J. Ford to be on the court.
"We've got so many guys, we feel like we've got a deep team," Mitchell said. "You want to balance off your team. You don't want to put all your scoring in the starting lineup. Then you go to the bench and who's going to score the basketball?"
With Jones seated at the start of games, Mitchell has a guy who can score in many different ways and play the point if needed. While Mitchell was on Jones for passing up shots early in the pre-season, the 6-foot-2 Oregon product seems to have found a comfort zone recently. He'll also play a leadership role on that young second unit, having the most NBA experience among the expected regular rotation players.
"Freddy can get shots," Mitchell said. "We put the ball in his hands and he can get a shot for himself or create a shot for someone else. I think he understands what we want him to do."