Interview

Media Day notes: Carroll not 100%, Wright close to shooting, Sullinger likely starter, and more

There’s always a ton to sort through with Media Day, and so while we’ll get to more fun, bigger-picture stuff throughout the week, we need to get some minor updates out of the way. You’re not going to like some of them. We’ll have more on a lot of this stuff in the coming weeks.

DeMarre Carroll is not at 100 percent

Ahh yes, the perpetual “how healthy is DeMarre Carroll” conversation. Carroll seemed in better spirits than throughout the course of last year, with much more clarity about the health of his knee and, more importantly, far less swelling. Doctors instructed Carroll to take a month off following the season, after which he started rehabbing to regain strength. And while he’s still not back to 100 percent, necessitating the team bringing him along slowly in camp

“I’m in a good place. I see we’re progressing in the right way, it’s going in the right way, my rehab and training is going in the right way so I’m happy,” Carroll said, adding that he’s progressed to five-on-five play. “You have to trust the process and the leaders of that process.”

As for Carroll’s overall goals for the season, he’s focusing on health and letting his play speak for him from there, body willing.

“I just want to get through it healthy,” he said. “If I can get through a healthy year, you’ll see the best of me. If I’m not healthy, you’re not going to see the best of me.”

Delon Wright close to shooting, could sit until January

There’s some good news and bad news on the Delon Wright front. Wright told me Monday that he’s hoping to be diagnosed with a full range of motion – which means a return to shooting – sometime soon, perhaps even as soon as the start of training camp tomorrow.  While that may be optimistic, he’s definitely progressing, and he doesn’t look like the time off has cost him much of the size he was able to add before Summer League.

The unfortunate side of this is that it sounds as if initial recovery estimates may have been too liberal. The team’s release at the time said “at least” four months, with the very early part of that timeline falling in early December. Wright corrected that it’s more like late December or even early January, and that he’ll probably head to the D-League for a baseball-style rehab stint to shake the rust off.

So, yeah, hello Fred VanVleet. Or…

Jared Sullinger likely to start at power forward

As mentioned here a few times since the Raptors added Jared Sullinger, he’s the starting power forward unless something changes.

“I’m not going to commit to it, but right now, today, I would say Jared Sullinger, it’s his to lose,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “I consider Pat the sixth starter for me, but for the balance of the minutes, balance of the first unit-second unit, I would say Sullinger is the guy now that it would be his to lose, but I reserve the right to change my mind.”

Naturally, Patrick Patterson is playing the good soldier, as he did a season ago.

Transition defense is Casey’s biggest concern with a Sullinger-Jonas Valanciunas pairing, but the Raptors are aggressively addressing the potential offensive fit by getting their new acquisition acclimated with the location of his new office.

Kyle Lowry contract talk

Anyone hoping for clarity ahead of Kyle Lowry’s free agency next summer are just going to have to wait. Here’s Lowry, in what’s probably the last we’ll hear from him on the topic:

Honestly, this year, I’m not gonna really talk about it. I’ve never talked about it before, because how I look at every single season is I’m taking it game by game, day by day, possession by possession, practice by practice. That’s one thing that’s always been me. I’ve been here five years and I’ve never looked past this or that, I’ve always looked at it as a day by day thing. For me, I won’t focus on any of that, probably won’t answer it, because I’m really not focused on it.

A few people asked on Twitter about Lowry looking a little less lean than last year on media day, but I don’t think there’s much reason for concern there. While Lowry admitted that the Olympics prevented him from doing “the things I wanted to do and I did last summer, individually,” he referenced learning about his body and how to maintain it over the course of a season multiple times.

He knows what he’s doing and what’s on the line for him this year.

“I would not bet against Kyle, the way he works and the way he takes care of his body,” Masai Ujiri said.

No focus on win total

This is going to come up a bunch during preseason, but none of the Raptors had much interest in putting a measurable goal on the season. Responses ranged from “winning,” to “competing,” to “a ring,” and nearly to a man, the players talked about being “the best team we can be when the postseason begins,” or some iteration of that.

This makes sense. Last year’s team made a major leap, one that had evaded the franchise for a long time. Development isn’t linear and the Cleveland Cavaliers remain a major hurdle, and so what the Raptors can do over 82 games seems far less important than what they might be able to accomplish over seven.

“The next thing they always talk about is how we get to be a championship-level team,” Ujiri said. “And I’m not saying that we are, but I am saying that’s the right way to think. That’s the right mentality to have.”

The Brazilians remain entertaining, and other assorted notes

We back.

A photo posted by Blake Murphy (@eblakemurphy) on

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