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Jamaal Magliore
Jamaal Magliore

Magloire comes home to play for Raptors Add to ...

He comes relatively inexpensive, will add some necessary toughness under the basket, and should be a positive influence in the locker room.

And when Jamaal Magloire takes the floor for the Toronto Raptors this season he will become the first Canadian to play for the NBA’s only Canadian franchise.

The Raptors are not able to comment as free-agent contracts cannot be formally signed until the new labour agreement is completed, a process that was finally completed Thursday night.

But the 33-year-old is under no such gag restrictions.

Magloire was bubbling with anticipation at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday where he has spent the past few days working out in advance of training camp, which is expected to start on Friday.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time [to play in Canada]and now it’s starting to come,” the Toronto native said.

And the significance of being the first Canadian to play for the Raptors is not lost on the 6-foot-11 centre.

“It’s very important to me,” he said. “I want to leave some kind of legacy behind and going into my 12th year there’s not much of a window left.

“And I think there’s a great opportunity to resurrect my career and to do it in the right way, in the right place.”

Although he has played only scrub’s minutes the past few seasons in a backup role with the Miami Heat, Magloire seems to be a good fit on a Toronto team desperate for help at the front end.

Although details of the contract have not yet leaked out, it is expected that Magloire’s deal is about the same he had with the Heat last year – one year at $1.23-million (U.S.).

That is certainly affordable for what in all likelihood is a single-season stopgap measure – at least until Toronto’s No. 1 draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, has completed his internship in Europe and is ready to join the team for the 2012-13 season.

Coming from Miami, a team loaded with talent, to Toronto, a team at the other end of the spectrum, Magloire will probably see a considerable spike in his playing time.

Last season with the Heat, Magloire played in 18 games, averaging just under nine minutes of court time.

Magloire looks in terrific shape, his broad shoulders and thick chest bulging with muscle on a 265-pound frame. He will proudly tell you his body fat has slipped to under 10 per cent.

And he’s certainly talking the talk of a former NBA all-star intent on helping a struggling franchise regain some of its swagger not seen since the days of Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.

“I see opportunity, not only for myself but for the team,” he said. “There’s opportunity for us to get back to where it was when the Raptors first started with the energy and the excitement that we had when Vince Carter was playing and TMac was playing.”

Magloire said the team will be able to count on him for toughness, something the Raptors haven’t really had since the menacing presence of Charles Oakley was seen lurking beneath the basket.

“I am the hockey player of this team,” Magloire said. “I’m the one that is gritty, that will work hard, that will do whatever it takes to get wins at the end of the day.”

Magloire has played the past three years in Miami and last season had an insider’s take on all the hype after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces on the Heat with Dwyane Wade.

“It was a fishbowl,” Magloire said. “It was a great experience. Dwyane Wade and LeBron and Chris Bosh just took basketball to new heights.”

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