Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Updated: March 5, 10:16 AM ET
Mensah-Bonsu to sign with Raptors
By Marc Stein
DALLAS -- Pops Mensah-Bonsu didn't make it to the end of a 10-day contract with the San Antonio Spurs, but he won't be out of a job long.
Mensah-Bonsu said Wednesday in Dallas that he will sign with the Toronto Raptors, possibly as soon as Thursday, after getting what NBA front-office sources described as guaranteed offers for the rest of the season from Toronto and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"It was a tossup," Mensah-Bonsu said after being waived by the Spurs earlier Wednesday to make roster room for the forthcoming arrival in San Antonio of Drew Gooden.
"I think there might be more minutes at my position with the Raptors and they wanted me even before I came to San Antonio. So I decided I'm going to go to Toronto."
Mensah-Bonsu was still traveling with the Spurs on Wednesday as they completed a three-game road trip with a 107-102 loss to the Mavericks. The Spurs had to let Mensah-Bonsu out of the final two days of his contract so they have a spot to plug in Gooden.
The 25-year-old elected to sign a 10-day contract with San Antonio on Feb. 25 despite the Raptors' aggressive pursuit, hoping to eventually convince the Spurs to keep him for the rest of the season.
"I had a couple of great options," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I hoped San Antonio would be a good fit, but I understand the business side of the game. They had a chance to sign a veteran.
"But I'm grateful for my time here. I really wanted to be a part of this organization [and] be around guys like Tim Duncan. I think it's going to help me down the road even though it was a short [stay]."
Sources say that Toronto, clinging to faint hope of sneaking into the playoffs in the East, has targeted Mensah-Bonsu as an energizer for its thin bench after he averaged 26.6 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks during an eight-game stint with San Antonio's D-League affiliate in Austin.
Mensah-Bonsu confesssed, though, that it was difficult to pass on Oklahoma City's offer given his close ties to Thunder forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Mensah-Bonsu shares a Washington, D.C. area connection with Durant and Green after his time starring at George Washington.
The 6-foot-9 forward wound up appearing in three games in the eight days he spent on San Antonio's roster, averaging 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 6.7 minutes.
He had been out of the NBA since spending the 2006-07 season with Dallas but has been drawing increased attention from league executives since a strong summer showing alongside Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng on Great Britain's national team and after his stint with the Austin Toros.
Gooden's signing with San Antonio, verbally agreed to Tuesday, is not expected to be completed before Thursday, although Gooden did clear waivers Wednesday.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has only backed slightly off his weeklong refusal to discuss Gooden until he's formally signed, referring Wednesday to Mensah-Bonsu's release by saying: "I think that intuitive people would reasonably read into that move in some way, shape or form."
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.