Toronto Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and new Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela spoke with media at BioSteel Centre on Wednesday. We’ll post video once it’s up, but in the meantime, here are the relevant notes and quotes.
On the process without a pick:
I think from the start it was very similar which is let’s canvas all of college, international basketball, some of the high school stuff for guys that are eligible and really get a sense for them earlier in the year. Obviously not having them in there and having a little bit more of a personal touch puts a little bit of a question mark, but I think we’re very comfortable with our process and our early season looks at guys.
On rumors they want to pick up a lottery pick:
It’s always tough. We always say you fall in love with your picks at this time of year so it’s hard to get rid of them. We’ve been in the opposite situation where we’ve had a lot of picks and we haven’t moved them so we’re constantly trying to get in, we’re probing and asking the right questions as far as what it would take to get in and that’s just part of our daily due diligence.
Yeah. I think there’s always, every year picks are traded so, I think I said earlier this week, you’re always trying to find the biggest gap between what you can give up and what you can get back. There’s different ranges, difference variances, but that’s what we’re looking for.
On the trade value of the team’s young pieces:
There’s definitely interest in, there’s always interest in those young guys because they’ve proven themselves. This year was a big year for all of them. As far as is it easy to replicate I think that’s the task we’re all faced with in management, can you have a right mix of veterans and young players to kind of have sustained success in the NBA.
An opening statement:
I just wanted to thank everyone here at MLSE and with the Raptors specifically. It’s an amazing opportunity for myself and for my family. We are really looking forward to this, to be in Mississauga, and to coach the 905 team, it’s just tremendous. So as we move forward into this, as we figure out the summer and our first game, we are just really thankful as a family and really thankful for the time we’ve spent here, but also the connections we have between the two programs.
On why he wanted the job, and what he’s looking forward to:
I think the one is making real leadership decisions. I think when you’re the assistant coach, you can kind of make suggestions, but to make the actual decision, that final decision that has consequence, for me is a challenge that I really want to sort of grow in. So for me, that’s the main step there.
Yeah, I think that once there was some change with Coach Casey, everything was sort of up in the air to a certain extent, so you’re not sure where you’re gonna land. When we hired Coach Nick, that really sort of changed the game in terms of having someone who I know really well. Then it just became a discussion of what is the best step for me. And in discussion with the front office and with him, this is just such a great growth opportunity that projects my career forward, so to me it was a no-brainer to take this on.
On what a Jama Mahlalela team looks like:
I think that’s our players play with energy. I want them to have an energy when they play on the floor, they need to be active, they need to be diving for loose balls, they need active hands. To me, if they play with energy and effort, the rest of the stuff we can figure out over the course of the season. But that’s the type of player I want to play for our team.
I think I’m someone who is people first. I really listen to people. I want to get to know my players first and once I know them I can really start to develop a coaching strategy around that person. I am a trained teacher and an educator so for me it’s about learning and the different ways taht we all learn and I think finding the right learning style for each of my players. Then give them passion and give them energy and create a coaching staff that also passion and energy so each day they come to work they feel an energy in the gym and they want to work to get better.
On the Raptors-905 bridge:
Yeah, we’ve had really good conversations. I think that’s one of the most exciting parts for me is that we have such a good working relationship. I think there’s gonna be a real lock-step between the Raptors team and the 905 team in terms of what we’re running offensively, how we’re guarding defensively, but also just our vision. I think there’ll be a connection between the coaching staffs that is exciting, and I think we’re maybe even gonna bridge new territories in terms of the connectedness between our two teams.
As a side note, Mahlalela will not be coaching the Summer League team. It’s unclear who will be handling that responsibility, but it sounds as if Nick Nurse wants to have a hand in it. Whether he coaches it himself or uses one of his new assistants, Patrick Mutombo, or some combination from the staff, there will be a heavy Raptors’ coaching presence in Las Vegas.