Raptors sign Spanish Finals MVP

Updated: July 24, 2006, 7:05 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors signed free agent Jorge Garbajosa to a three-year contract worth just under $12 million on Monday.

Garbajosa averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 35 minutes for Unicaja in the Euroleague this past year.

The 6-foot-9 forward has earned a number of honors during his European playing career, including 2005 and 2006 Spanish club finals MVP.

The 28-year-old has spent 11 seasons playing in Europe and has played in two Olympics.

"It's an important moment for me," Garbajosa said in a conference call from Spain. "I have played a lot of years here in Europe, and the Toronto Raptors gave me the opportunity to try to play in the best league in the world. I like the city, I like the team, I like everything else, so I want to be part of it."

Before playing with Unicaja, Garbajosa spent four seasons with Benetton Treviso in Italy. Maurizio Gherardini, Toronto's new assistant general manager and Benetton's former GM, recommended the Raptors sign him.

"He's a guy who's not afraid of fighting anybody," Gherardini. "He's got the size to go against guys in the paint without being afraid of anybody."

The signing adds another European to the team. General manager Bryan Colangelo selected Italian forward Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, then signed Anthony Parker, an American who played the last six seasons in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He acquired Slovenian center Rasho Nesterovic in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs, and hired Gherardini.

Toronto's roster also includes Spanish guard Jose Calderon.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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