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Raptors News

Locker clean-out: Miles talks chemistry, VanVleet talks shoulder, Casey status up in the air

It’s going to be an interesting summer for VanVleet.

The Toronto Raptors cleaned out their lockers and did their end-of-season physicals at BioSteel Centre on Tuesday. That means post-season interviews for a lot of players. What follows is a collection of quotes from C.J. Miles and Fred VanVleet.

(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. Masai Ujiri and [possibly] Dwane Casey will speak at a later date.)

A quick note off the top: Josh Lewenberg of TSN is reporting that the Raptors are considering a coaching change. That Dwane Casey didn’t do his annual end-of-season media availability with the players, as he’s always done, is perhaps telling. Lewenberg doesn’t suggest a decision has been made either way as the evaluation process continues, but it makes plenty of sense that the Raptors are at least giving a change in voice strong consideration after consecutive four-game exits in the second round. Casey is a good, well-liked coach and has done an excellent job building the program. At some point, though, a shift in approach makes sense since it might not be possible to come back with drastically different pieces. I’ll have a more detailed take on the situation sometime later this week.

C.J. Miles

On what to do to beat LeBron James:

“I mean, if I had the answer, I wouldn’t be sitting right here. We battled. I think it took us a little too long to be as physical as we were, to go out with an any means necessary attitude. Not to take anything away from them, they played great, guys made shots around LeBron, LeBron played great. We had some great moments in the series, too, we just couldn’t figure out the ways to get over the humps when it was time to. I don’t really have a direct answer to how you stop the guy that’s doing what he’s doing over there.”

On what’s always an awkward last flight home:

“It’s weird, man. It’s always weird, any time in that situation. Because one, it’s the last one like that for a long time. And two, guys are pissed and at the same time these are your brothers. These are people you’ve built a relationship, these are the people that have been picking you up out of the dirt all year, and every time stuff goes wrong, lemme find a way to get each other feeling better. But there’s no tomorrow now. So it’s a lulling thing.”

On the valuable experience for the team’s youth:

“I think it can be nothing but positive for them. These guys, they’re working their tails off for the last couple years and then getting all the minutes and experience they got this season, and arguably won us a lot of games. They got a taste of that other level I was talking about. And there was no way they could know about it, because they’d never really been in the situation. It’s almost like a hit that was inevitable. And still later on, they still had good moments, because you grab the bull by the horns, you can hold on for a second. But you still, until you figure out everything that you need to do for the situation, it’s hard.”

On the quality and chemistry of the group in general:

“These guys were great, man. And I think you can see that. It oozes through everything that we do. We’re always joking and laughing together, and you see from anything, whether you follow guys on social media or even just in the gym, it’s always loud, talkative, fun. This has been one of the best groups I’ve been around, and that’s a testament to the organization, the type of people that they bring in. Which also helps with building what we have here, basketball-wise. I’m not saying guys don’t play hard for certain guys, but it’s a fact that guys play harder with guys they like, and they play better. So for you to have a bunch of good guys who all understand that we’re trying to do one thing, which is win a championship, and we’ll put things aside to do it, it’s great.”

Fred VanVleet

On the feeling today, and some general life advice:

Good. Relative, you know. Healthy and alive, so take that for what it’s worth. Tough, tough way to go out yesterday. Obviously not the way you want to end your season, in that fashion of how we lost Game 4, getting swept and all so all those things are hard to stomach. IT’s gonna be a long summer dealing with those things but today’s a new day so you just gotta move forward.

On his injured right shoulder:

It affected it. I can kinda be honest about it now. I’ve been lying to myself for the last two, three weeks because I had plans on playing until June…I’m gonna do a lot of rehabbing this summer, just to get it back on track. It’s gonna take some time to even learn, re-find my shooting motions again. I just started getting back to a comfortable shooting form, and trying to get back to where I was before I got hurt two weeks ago. Probably go see a specialist this weekend just to get it cleared up and make sure there’s nothing that happened in the last two weeks, just for clarity i think that’s the smart thing to do, especially for the summer. So I’ll go to New York this weekend and meet with the doctors, but nothing major. I don’t expect anything to be there, but it’s something I need to do.

On his impending restricted free agency:

“It’s new for me. Obviously, it’s only my second year in the league so it’s my first time being a true free agent. I’m still restricted so there’s limits that come with that and there’s different things, but I’m just gonna approach it the same way I approach everything else: Control what I can control. I’ve put together a body of work that speaks for itself, I’ve done the right things and tried to handle everything the right way and you just hope that the rest takes care of itself…Winning comes first. Like I said, I’m restricted so it’s not like I have the ultimate green light to just go choose a place I wanna go. There’s gonna be some restriction in that area. I love it here. This is the place that gave me a chance, gave me an opportunity, whether it’s the organization, coaching staff, so I’m a loyal guy. I always have been. Hopefully things work out. But I understand that there’s a business, at the end of the day.”

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