By Ryan Wolstat
Although the Toronto Raptors tried to have fun the right here and now on Friday morning — the profitable completion of latest, three-year offers for Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka — it was unattainable to not ponder what comes subsequent.
Most crucially, how the Raptors compete in a watered-down East and towards the powerhouse West.
“I believe we began one thing and I believe we’re going to proceed to develop and attempt to end one thing and proceed to get higher,” Lowry mentioned.
“I imagine it’s the very best place to win a hoop and even when it wasn’t I need to make it that,” he continued.
Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke of a three-year window that may give the franchise the pliability to stay aggressive, whereas in a position to pivot down the road to a rebuild or retool if crucial.
“I believe it’s an excellent begin for us to place out foot ahead to exit and compete the subsequent couple years,” Ujiri mentioned.
“This chance fell to us. We’ve checked out it. We’ve executed every kind of research, whether or not it’s gamers, whether or not it’s the draft arising, whether or not it’s the panorama of the NBA and the Japanese Convention, all of these issues. You by no means know the place this stuff go. I believe all we’re attempting to do is about ourselves as much as be aggressive to place your self able to possibly compete for a championship. It’s all primarily based on the workforce, chemistry, all of these issues coming collectively. Hopefully we will begin this stuff on an excellent observe.”
Retaining Lowry and Ibaka actually does that. Having the duo along with DeMar DeRozan and the remainder of the squad from Day 1 ought to be useful.
“Final 12 months was such a rush, what, 20 video games? I obtained, like, two video games with the blokes,” Lowry mentioned, referring to his wrist damage.
“I believe having a full coaching camp, getting the communication down, getting the coverages down. Attending to really feel what Serge likes, getting extra time with Delon (Wright) and Cory (Joseph in two-point guard backcourts, which is able to occur typically) and all the blokes out on the ground collectively,” he mentioned.
“We’re attempting to verify we’re on the identical web page. When you’ve got a full 12 months collectively it helps. And getting Serge again is massive — that stretch 4, stretch 5 that we want, along with his shot-blocking skills.”
Have they got sufficient shooters in an NBA world that has gone three-point loopy the previous few seasons?
“We’ll determine it out,” Ujiri mentioned.
What in regards to the present tough cap scenario?
“We’re going to attempt to determine how we will get a pair guys in to assist our basketball workforce” Ujiri mentioned.
“We’ll see. I can’t say an excessive amount of as a result of we’re in the course of attempting to do it. I want I might provide you with guys names. However there are 29 different groups, too.”
Ujiri added that there are methods to get the workforce away from the luxurious tax degree both quickly, or into the season. How a lot is MLSE snug spending? How a lot is Ujiri snug placing on the ledger?
“I wouldn’t say there’s a restrict however we’ve got to be sensible with ourselves, like how good is our workforce? That’s the judgment we’ve got to make,” he mentioned.
“(Common supervisor Bobby Webster) and the analytics guys need to make that judgment for me to make an excellent resolution. How good is our workforce and the way a lot will we need to put into it? I believe we’ll determine it out. I don’t suppose these are the hardest choices we’ve got.”
Within the technique of trying forward, there was additionally a necessity to contemplate what was misplaced with the defections of P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson.
“It’s all the time tough to maneuver away from any participant. It was tough to see Patrick Patterson go, it was tough to see P.J. go,” Ujiri mentioned.
“We’re not a kind of groups that retains altering and altering and altering. We attempt to construct continuity and while you do this, you get connected to those guys.”
Lowry spoke equally, whereas Ibaka addressed how these two vital massive males would get replaced.
“I’m completely happy for these guys, they obtained what they deserved,” Lowry mentioned.
“Pat was my rookie, he’s all the time going to be an in depth buddy of mine and P.J. was in my draft class, however for them to get their jobs and transfer on, that’s high-quality with us, we perceive it’s a enterprise.”
Will Ibaka have extra duty with them gone?
“Not solely me, I believe everyone on the workforce, we’ve got to step up and attempt to do extra. It’s not just one individual,” Ibaka mentioned.
To that finish, Ujiri indicated the Raptors will play quicker, transfer the ball extra typically, defend onerous, lower higher and maybe proceed to go smaller.
Ibaka is okay with all of that.
“(On) defence, I can play (three positions), can change onto level guards, can roll, I can pop, it don’t matter. No matter coaches suppose is greatest for the workforce, while you ask me, I’m going to reply,” he mentioned.
Till the destiny of Jonas Valanciunas is set, it’s tough to evaluate how the frontcourt will shake out. Within the long-term, Ibaka would be the centre with Jakob Poeltl as his backup and children OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam will see appreciable time at energy ahead.
Re-signing Norman Powell to an enormous new deal might be subsequent summer time’s precedence and it’s tough to see the place the cash to maintain Lucas Nogueira would come from.
However that’s a lot farther down the road. For now, Toronto’s solely focus is constant to be a pressure within the East, regardless of dropping a few key items.
Retaining the membership’s high two free brokers was an important step, however there may be nonetheless work to be executed.