The Toronto Raptors are ticking off their check list of weaknesses one-by-one this off-season, and making a compelling case to Chris Bosh in the meantime.
Their decision to sign Indiana Pacers guard Jarrett Jack to an offer sheet over the weekend is a perfect example.
The Raptors suffered mightily last season when starting point guard Jose Calderon was off the floor or hampered by injury, as Raptors backups Will Solomon and Roko Ukic struggled.
Entering his fifth NBA season Jack has excelled starting and coming off the bench and can play minutes at shooting guard as well, making him a useful tool for Raptors head coach Jay Triano. As an added benefit, Jack is one of Bosh's best friends in the NBA, having played college basketball together during Bosh's one season at Georgia Tech.
Jack signed the offer sheet on Saturday in Las Vegas, with the Raptors offering him four years and $20-million (U.S.) to come and round out their back court. The Pacers will receive the offer sheet this morning and will have seven days to match the offer and retain Jack. Indiana has had attendance problems recently and thus budget conscious. It has four other point guards under contract, so there is a thought in the league that the Pacers won't match unless they can find a way to trade either T.J. Ford or Jamaal Tinsley.
Jack, 25, is coming off his best statistical season, averaging a career-high 13.1 points to go along with 4.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds as he took over the starting point guard job from Ford down the stretch with the Pacers last year.
His willingness to defend and play different roles has generally earned him plaudits over his short career, which began when he was selected 22nd overall in the point-guard heavy 2005 draft, playing his first three seasons in Portland.
"This is a professional basketball league, and you can't get any more professional than Jarrett Jack," Pacers general manager Larry Bird said last season. "He's done everything that you're supposed to do as a basketball player. He plays tough, practises hard, plays hard, spends time after practice working his game. He's a great teammate. He's what this league should be about, and I think it's an honour for us to have him as an Indiana Pacer."
Said Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien: "He's a superb leader … some people are goof-offs. He's not. He's a man's man from the standpoint, he comes to work, wants to enjoy work, wants other people around him to enjoy work, but they work."
Adding Jack at the very least puts pressure on Ukic, the second-year Croatian guard who has been spotty during two games in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and suggests that Marcus Banks, who was acquired by the Raptors from Miami along with Shawn Marion, isn't likely to be on the roster come training camp.
The Raptors sill have about $7-million to spend before they bump up against the luxury tax. It's expected their next priority will be to sign a veteran big man, with former Raptor Rasho Nesterovic an oft-mentioned target.
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