Ukic signing official + Joey Graham speaks + TJ Ford!

Official announcement of the Roko Ukic signing is the main news of the day. It’s a guaranteed three year deal that runs till the end of the 2010-11 season. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but given how close the Raptors are to the cap, it can’t be more than a million per. In 34 regular season Italian League games, Ukic averaged 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals. The most impressive thing about the man was his blistering FG percentage which is close to 60%! Combined with Calderon, Ukic is going to give the Raptors an all-Euro PG tandem with steady hands.

The NBA-readyness of Ukic has often come into question, after being selected by Rob Babcock in the second round of the 2005 draft, Ukic, then a 21 year old, was deemed to need a year or so more of European basketball. But with Calderon and Ford gobbling up the minutes at that position Ukic was forced to prolong his European career although many scouts believed that he was NBA-ready. Now at 24, he comes into the league at the same age as Jose Calderon and we’re hoping the results are similar. Asking him to replace TJ Ford is a tall task given the former Raptor’s speed and ability to keep defenders on their toes, if Ukic can hold the fort down by playing good defense and running an organized offense while Calderon gets his 15 minute breather, he’ll fit right in.

There was some talk yesterday that the Raptors were interested in the services of James Posey. As ridiculous as that sounds the rumour carried some merit. That merit was quickly squashed as Posey cashed in on a 4 year 25 million dollar deal with the Hornets who have had enough of Mo Pete’s inconsistency. As John Hollinger points out, signing 30 year old role players to big deals rarely works out (see Bryon Russell, Dan Majerle, Jaren Jackson, Rick Fox and Raja Bell) and it hardly makes sense to pay Posey this kind of money this summer when nobody cared for him the previous year. The other big signing of the day had the Cavs giving Daniel Gibson a five year deal.

Mike Ulmer talked to Joey Graham about playing in the summer league. Basically Joey’s saying that its better than sitting at home. I’m curoius as to whether Bryan Colangelo requested Joey to participate or whether he decided on his own that he needs to sharpen up his game:

“I was at home, sitting around, and I really wasn’t working out with guys. I said ‘why not go somewhere and play?’…I want the coaches to know I still can play and that I am a guy who will work hard. Last year was the first time I didn’t play that much, my first bit of adversity. It builds character and makes me into the person I want to be. I didn’t like not playing.”

This is probably a good time to mention how bad the blogs on are. It took me five minutes to figure out how to just link to this story. I mean, can’t they just get a WordPress installation?

TJ Ford was introduced as an Indiana Pacer on Wednesday and he proclaims that “Pacers basketball is back!” Well, the way he said it there was no exclamation mark at the end but you know TJ, he speaks casually but his mind is racing at 100mph. Ford says he’s going to be durable and aims to play the entire season:

“I think a lot of people are wondering if I take a hard fall whether I’m going to get up or not. I think the staff we have here, the things they discussed with me, that can help my situation better than what it is. I think I’ll be durable throughout the season.”

I think he”ll be just fine with the athletes around him and the Pacers will surprise people. It’s definitely more of a rebuilding project than Toronto but Ford’s saying the right things early on and Jarret Jack does seem like he’s ready to take the back seat. Jim O’Brien’s calling the Pacers off-season so far a “stroke of genius”. I’m not going to go that far but it`s hard not to like the talent they’ve acquired.

Samuel Dalembert’s agent is responding to him being cut by wishing Basketball Canada “Good Luck ever getting another NBA player to show up again”. In hindsight, I’m not sure if cutting him was a great idea, it does send a bit of a harsh message to any other potential players. I think a benching would`ve sufficed but I stand behind Leo’s decision of not putting up with any nonsense.

The Raptors resume summer league on Thursday against the Sixers. Third time’s the charm. Dance Pak auditions are happening. Insert innuendo here.

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