Raptors set to sign sharpshooter

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo has thrown some big money at small forward Jason Kapono.

Kapono, who led the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season (52%) while with the Miami Heat, has agreed to sign with the Raptors for a reported $24 million US over four years.

"Jason is thrilled to be coming to Toronto," Kapono's agent Bob Myers told the Sun Media yesterday. "He's excited about going to a young team that's heading in the right direction and he wants to be part of it."

Myers also represents Raptors point guard T.J. Ford and said that the presence of Ford in the Toronto backcourt also was a factor in Kapono agreeing to terms with the Raptors.

"To have a point guard like that who is such a great distributor of the ball was exciting to Jason," Myers said.

Colangelo neither would confirm nor deny the deal yesterday as teams cannot formally sign free agents until July 11, though they can agree to terms as of July 1, which was the case yesterday with Kapono.

Kapono's signing means that veteran swingman Morris Peterson, who also is a free agent, is finished as a Raptor. According to sources, Peterson's agent already has talked to three or four teams.

Myers said a number of teams, including the Heat, courted Kapono, but in the end, Toronto felt like the best fit.

Kapono, a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, posted career-highs in points (10.9) and rebounds (2.7) last season. He also won the three-point shooting competition at the NBA all-star game.

Kapono, 26, enjoyed a storied career with UCLA, becoming the first player to lead the school in scoring for four straight years. He also was the first Bruin to earn first team all Pac-10 honours for four years.

The Raptors are going to be dangerous from the perimetre. They now have two of the NBA's deadliest three-point shooters in Kapono (52%) and Anthony Parker, who tied for fourth in the NBA from beyond the arc (44%).

As it stands now, the Raptors would open the 2007-08 regular season with T.J. Ford and Parker at the guard positions, forwards Kapono and Chris Bosh and sophomore Andrea Bargnani at centre.

Colangelo now will turn his focus on signing a backup power forward/centre, using the biennial exemption, which is $1.8 million this season, and $1.98 next season.


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