The stakes in the T.J. Ford stakes have been raised considerably.

The Raptors, according to league sources, have had discussions with the Indiana Pacers about a trade for veteran centre Jermaine O’Neal, adding a major name and major salary obligation to potential transactions ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft.

The deal would include Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, another player to satisfy salary cap needs and, perhaps, Toronto’s 17th pick in the draft for O’Neal, a 29-year-old centre with two years and almost $44 million US left on his contract.

But the deal is far from imminent and only one of a handful of possibilities for Ford, who has three years and about $25 million left on his contract.

According to sources, the Raptors are still talking to the Phoenix Suns about a deal centred around Ford and Boris Diaw and there are “about three” other teams actively talking to Toronto about Ford.
The sources weren’t clear on which other teams are involved in the talks.

Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo had no comment on the Indiana talks, or any Ford speculation, yesterday.

In other Raptor news yesterday, all-star forward Chris Bosh was named as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team for the Beijing Games, alongside NBA stars LeBron James and reigning MVP Kobe Bryant.

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