From rejection comes a 'blessing in disguise'

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

SACRAMENTO -- John Salmons apologizes to God and Toronto -- in that order, it seems.

The 6-foot-6 swingman, who verbally agreed to a five-year, $23-million US deal with the Raptors this summer before backing out and signing with the Sacramento Kings, maintained the same religious reasoning he originally used to explain his decision last night when questioned by Toronto reporters.

"I regret doubting my faith," Salmons, a devout baptist, said before his Kings faced the Raptors last night at Arco Arena.

"It just so happens Toronto was involved. I gave my forgiveness to God. After that, I apologize to the Toronto city and the organization. After that, there's not much about it and (you) move on."

Interpret that statement however you want. But one thing is clear. Both sides have, as Salmons said, moved on and seem happy with how things have transpired. After Salmons bailed on Toronto -- just after he said thanks but no thanks to the Phoenix Suns -- and opted for a five-year, $25.5-million agreement with the Kings, Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo went out and signed Fred Jones to a more flexible three-year, $11- million deal.

So far, the Raptors can't complain. The 6-foot-2 Jones is averaging 12 points, while Salmons is at 7.4. Jones also is averaging more minutes than Salmons (28.4-23).

"I can't get mad at John for changing his mind," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "It wasn't (only) us. He changed his mind with Phoenix ... The good thing is we're glad at least he was honest and told us.

"It would have been a predicament if he would have came and been unhappy and felt like in his heart, he made the wrong decision.

"So from my standpoint, we're thankful he at least said he was honest and said, 'Guys, I have reservations about it, I want to go somewhere else.' by letting us know before we signed him to a contract. Then, we would have had to go try to trade him and all this stuff."

It helps that Jones has been the Raptors' best bench player, not to mention a guy who seems very happy to be in Toronto after four seasons filled with off-court shenanigans with the Indiana Pacers.

"What it did was open the door for us to sign Freddy," Mitchell said. "We really felt it was a blessing in disguise because we're really happy with Freddy.

"We think he's still a young player and he's going to get better. It seems like he's getting better every game. We feel like he has got unbelievable talent, not to say John doesn't.

But it seems like sometimes things work out for a reason and we're happy with the way it worked out."


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