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Raptors to sign Jackson

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INDIANAPOLIS — Mark Jackson wanted to finish his career with the Indiana Pacers. They wanted him back, too.

But the Toronto Raptors offered the point guard a four-year, $14 million contract, and he didn't refuse. And the Pacers didn't match it.

"If they wanted me, they could have had me. You don't run out of money," said Jackson, 35, scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Friday in Toronto.

Jackson was in Toronto on Friday morning undergoing a physical. A deal had not yet been signed.

Jackson told the Toronto Sun that being pursued by Raptors GM Glen Grunwald and new head coach Lenny Wilkens were important factors in his decision to go to Toronto.

"It was talking to both of them," Jackson said. "They made me feel really appreciated. They gave me the sense of being wanted, and it was really good to feel that again."

Asked if the Indiana Pacers didn't make him feel wanted, Jackson answered: "I didn't have any conversations with them. But I'll talk about that soon enough. I just want to be a Raptor."

Pacers president Donnie Walsh said Thursday he had wanted to re-sign Jackson, but acknowledged the team couldn't match a contract from a team with plenty of salary cap room.

"He got an unbelievable offer from Toronto, and I understand why he had to take it," Walsh told The Indianapolis Star. "I'll miss him a lot, and somewhere down the line I know he'll be a great NBA coach."

Jackson has also played for the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers during his 13-year career. He averaged 8.1 points and 27.0 minutes for the Pacers last season.

Indiana has already committed $182 million in deals that re-signed their other free agents from the team that reached the NBA Finals last season — Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, Austin Croshere and Sam Perkins.

The Pacers will seek another point guard to take Jackson's place on the roster, although not necessarily as a starter, Walsh said.

The Pacers drafted a point guard, Jaquay Walls, in the second round of this year's draft, but will try to land an experienced player as well. The Pacers have both the midlevel salary exception of $2.25 million and the veteran $1 million exception available.

The unsigned point guards on the marketplace include Tim Hardaway, who is expected to re-sign with Miami. Other contenders are Howard Eisley, Greg Anthony, Tyrone Bogues, Bimbo Coles, Sherman Douglas and Haywoode Workman.

When Miller's contract extension was announced Wednesday, he said he wanted Jackson back with the Pacers.

"Mark has meant so much to the franchise," Miller said in a statement. "Mark knows how to play the game. It would be a disservice to this organization if they do not sign Mark."

Jackson had two stints with the Pacers. He first came to the team in a draft day trade with the Los Angeles Clippers in 1994. After two seasons, he was sent to Denver in an offseason deal in 1996 that brought Jalen Rose to the Pacers.

Jackson was reacquired with 30 games remaining in the 1996-97 season.

Last season, he ranked ninth in the NBA in assists (8.0) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.74-to-1), despite playing just 27 minutes per game.

Jackson ranks fifth in the NBA in career assists with 8,574, 487 behind Isiah Thomas, the new Pacers coach.