Ford plays it coy

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

T.J. Ford would not confirm the news, but the expression on his face told the story.

The Raptors point guard knew he was about to become about $33 million U.S. richer yesterday at practice, but wouldn't spill the beans because the official release hadn't come out yet.

"Got to make it a little interesting, a little fun," Ford said as he broke out into a wide grin.

The real fun for Ford came when he signed a four-year extension (the final year is a player option and each year contains a salary of $8-9 million US) later in the day. If Ford hadn't signed by midnight, he would have become a restricted free agent next off-season. The payout is just below the extension signed yesterday by Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich (about $9.5 million annually for five seasons), but above Seattle SuperSonics point guard Luke Ridnour ($6 million per season for three seasons).

"It will be a good thing just knowing I'll be here for some more years," Ford said. "With the great group of guys we have, we're just looking forward to building (into) a championship team. I'm quite sure it will turn out pretty good.

"I want to be one of the best point guards in the NBA and that's my main focus, no matter what my pay may be ... My ultimate goal is to continue to have the legacy I've been having throughout my career also in the NBA."

The signing of Ford also was expected to lead to the Raptors picking up the $2.5 million option on forward Kris Humphries for next year late last night. With those moves made, the only core player on the roster without a contract for next season is free-agent-to-be Morris Peterson.

Ford and star Chris Bosh now have the same contracts length-wise, linking the T

exas duo together in the rebuilding process.

One of the big question marks about Ford is his jump shot. It was pointed out to Bosh that he could have a better three-point shot than Ford. "We'll have to make a bet on that," Bosh said. "It's a bit of a tossup right now."

However, the speedy Ford's inconsistent shot does not concern Bosh. As he noted yesterday, a point guard's ability to knock down long-range shots isn't the deciding factor in determining whether a team is successful. Last season, point guard Mike James' strong three-point shot wasn't a difference maker in the standings.

"We've had plenty of three-point shooters here and that hasn't worked yet," Bosh said.


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