Raptors News

Locker clean-out: Casey, Tucker, and Ibaka reflect, look ahead

The Toronto Raptors cleaned out their lockers and did their end-of-season physicals at BioSteel Centre on Monday. That means post-season interviews for a lot of players. What follows is a collection of quotes from Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, and head coach Dwane Casey.

Click here for notes and quotes from DeMar DeRozan’s session.

Click here for notes and quotes from Kyle Lowry’s session.

(There’s plenty of analysis coming in the coming days and weeks, it’s just easier on a day like today to cover everything lightly and dig in deeper later on.)

Dwane Casey

On his relationship with Kyle Lowry

“I think it’s solid. Again, you always, every coach I’ve been with has always had that relationship, up-and-down relationship with the point guard because they’re competitors, you’re a competitor, and you have a way you see things and you want to be on the same page most of the time. I know Kyle and I are on the same page most of the time now. We’ve grown. Just like any relationship we’ve gotten better, more solid, I understand him better now, who he is, how he thinks, he understands what we’re trying to do as a coaching staff. There’s never a relationship – when you have that many days, that many months, that many plane rides, games, timeouts, practices, film sessions – that’s going to be perfect. It’s never going to happen.

But our relationship is solid together. We see the same things. It’s scary, thinking the same thing alike. I’m sure he’s thinking the same way, that’s kind of scary when you start thinking like each there and anticipating what he’s thinking, but Kyle has grown as a player, as a person, as a man, as a family man. I’ve watched it right before my eyes and he’s had some of his best success here. We all have here. Hopefully it goes forward. I know he has a say in that, with free agency coming up, but I enjoy our relationship. I enjoy the way he plays. You have your moments. We all do. But as any relationship, it’s grown tremendously.”

On what life without Lowry would be like

“It would be difficult. It would be difficult. That’s a tough question to answer right now. Again, it’s going to be a lot of decisions to be made on the roster by management and also Kyle has a say in it also in free agency, he’s earned that right. Kyle has earned that unrestricted free agent tag, like most players in the league so that’s a very difficult question and again a lot of other variables have to go into that to see if you’re going to be successful without a player.”

On what DeMar DeRozan needs to do for next season

“His next step is the 3-ball, knocking that down. It’s no secret is the next evolution as a player has to be that and to continue to be an excellent defender. If J.R. Smith who has been known in his history not to be a great defender can defend, they can put him on a top offensive player on the other team, there is not a reason that DeMar can’t do that. He has athleticism. He has foot speed. He has toughness. He has the body. He’s done a great job with his body. He can do that also.”

On what Jonas Valanciunas needs to do for next season

“He’s in the best condition he’s been in as far as his weight, his conditioning, his foot speed…The issue with Jonas, and not just Jonas, any big man in this league, is guarding shooting fives or when teams downsize and play their fours as fives, and mainly in transition. If he’s late getting down the floor, now there’s a chain reaction. Jonas, that’s his goal. Every adjustment in his career, he’s made. He can do it. He’s a good enough athlete to get back in transition and find. That’s the key.”

“Jonas is going to get there (hitting threes) eventually and I hope it’s next year, but I can’t guarantee that. I would have no problem with that whatsoever. All of our players should work on the three ball.”

A self-evaluation, and what this team needs to do to take a step forward

“Could have done better, I always feel that way…Always. There’s not a coach in this league that can’t look at the season that says hey, I could do better.”

“Even though we were in the top 10 in both categories for a lot of the year, which is a credit to our coaching staff, who did a great job, there’s a lot of things. There were times I thought we adapted earlier in the season to the three-ball, to offensively, playing up-tempo taking the three, shooting the three, to the new NBA. Again, somehow, someway, I’ve got to do a better job at the end of the year to make sure we keep that, to where guys keep their confidence, to make sure they do take the three and get our goals up, as far as the number of threes, so I’ve got to do a better job from that standpoint.

There’s always areas in our team, in our play, that I feel like I can do a better job, our staff, we all can do better. There’s nothing we can be satisfied about, with our job performance, especially after the way we went out.”

On the team’s proximity to breaking through

“I wouldn’t say the team is at a crossroads. The roster- you’d have to talk to Masai. I’m saying we’re there – close enough to smell the roses. Whether I need to do a better job of coaching or whatever it is, players stepping up maybe. A player needs to step up and play above and beyond who he is or we need a big stop here or there, a big basket – you never know what that one big thing will be that catapults us to the next level.  I like our team and the changes we made.”

On FREE BRUNO Caboclo

“Quietly, Bruno has grown. He took some big steps with the 905 team. Whether that translates to the next level or not, we’ll have to find that out. But I thought he grew as a player. ”

On the struggles of Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll

Patterson: “I don’t know if he ever really got 100 percent healthy after the injury and the long layoff, he never was the same after that, his rhythm was off a little. When you miss as much time as he did, it effects you. It effected his 3-point production and effectiveness, but he really tried to give it to us elsewhere – defense, moving the basketball, screening – he was one of our best screeners. It was a lot of factors.”

Carroll: “It’s really unfair to DeMarre just because he’s been battling injuries the two years he’s been here. It’s not the same DeMarre we saw in Atlanta just because a nick here, a nick there, reoccurring things that he’s gone through, so it’s not fair…It hasn’t been fair to really evaluate who he is, what he can do and what he brings to the table because we haven’t seen the real, the healthy, the 100 per cent DeMarre Carroll…It would be really good to see 100 per cent healthy DeMarre Carroll – no nicks, no bumps, no bruises, no nothing, just 100 per cent. And he talked about this summer he’s going to go back to Atlanta and work on his strength and work on his weight lifting and get ready for the season. So that’s going to be the exciting thing, is having a 100 percent DeMarre Carroll.​”

P.J. Tucker

On losing in the playoffs vs. not making it at all

“I don’t know. It sucks either way. You don’t make the playoffs, it sucks and when you lose it sucks. It’s all bad.”

On his second Toronto tenure

“This team has come so far since when I was here back in the day. The franchise has gone to another level, the team has just gone to another level. It’s been great. The fans, everybody took me in with open arms. It was great. The whole experience here was unbelievable. I had a great time.”

“It’s Toronto first of all. Toronto’s a great city. The organization has gone to another level. I think it’s one of the first-class organizations in the NBA. No question. The best fans I’ve seen in the NBA. It’s unbelievable. The support even from when I was back here to now it’s a totally different level here now with the fans here. Many things that are attractive about coming to Toronto for sure.”

On his offseason priorities

“I think fit is everything. Once you’re a veteran, an older guy, it’s more about the fit. You want to win, obviously, but you want to look for the team where you feel like you can help, help push it to the next level, honestly. Being a veteran, being an older guy, situational with the team, coaches, you want the total fit. Everything to work out. So for me, I think it’s more about the fit.”

Someone honestly asked him if he likes tough play or finesse play

“Have you ever watched me play?  would say yes, I would say yes, I would prefer being physical to being finesse. I don’t think I have any finesse in my game at all. The most dirty, rugged, nasty-looking stuff you’ve ever seen in your life. That’s me.”

On Jared Dudley tweeting throughout the series that he should play more

“I knew that was coming, someone was going to say something about Jared. He’s a trip. Uh, no comment. Anything Jared says I have no comment on. I don’t read his tweets.”

Serge Ibaka

On liking his time in Toronto

“Yeah, we got a good locker room and the way we play. We still have room to get better, there’s always room to get better if you want to make a big step. In general, I like the style of the team, the way they play, the locker room, those guys they’re great, great guys. Since I got here, everything was easier, and I have fun with them.”

On his free agency and potentially staying

“I’m not thinking about right now. I’m sure you already expect that answer because, you know, I just finished playing last night. I’m going to go home and spend time with my daughter, then we see what happens. You never know, anything can happen.”

“I have fun here. I like the city, I like the fans, they’re great here. They show me a lot of love and support. I like the guys here, the teammates, the locker room, the organization is great. Like I said, everything is possible but in my mind, I’m not really thinking about, I’m gonna wait a couple more weeks, then I’m gonna sit down and start thinking and decide.”

On running into the Cavaliers

“I think the series, we tried, we tried hard, we played in the second round against the best team in the game. You have to give them credit. We all know, we all saw what kind of team they have compared to our team. That does not mean we’re far away. We’re not that far away. For now, they are just playing one of the best basketball, everyone’s playing a high level, so it’s tough.”

On his fit with the Raptors and playing more center

“I like the way Coach Casey used me since I got here. I wanna play four and five, and after that, it depends on how you play. In general, I did like the way Coach Casey used me when I got here.”

“Not more minutes (at center), it depends when we’re playing and what kind of team we play against, the way they play. Most teams play small five, small ball, they play faster, quicker, so it just depends when. I like some times because I can have an opportunity to be in the paint and block some shots, better than stay away defending the 3-point line. Just different.”

Note: Masai Ujiri will speak tomorrow. We’ll have coverage of that, as well.

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