* Key free-agent acquisition Carroll said he’s spent the past few weeks in Toronto, working out with new teammates & exploring the city. Speaking about the excitement he’s seen from Raptors fans, he promised to bring the “grit & grind” to Toronto. After playing in one of the NBA’s best offences with the Atlanta Hawks last season, Carroll wants to show his teammates that unselfish play results in success for everyone involved.
“Once you see it, you see the success in it, it kind of takes you by storm,” Carroll said. “Just like an average individual, you might go do something & it might not work, but if you see success in it, you keep doing it. I think once you see success in it, it makes you want to do it even more.
“Passing up a good shot for a great shot,” he continued. “I think if I can kind of bring that over here too, teach guys that every shot you get that’s a good shot, you can always pass up for a great shot.”
* “Luis is the best,” Lowry said. “He's my guy. He's been a friend now for years, I played with him 3 & a half years in Houston, & when I seen that signing, I actually really smiled & I was excited to get back here. I know his family, his kids, I look forward to seeing him now.”
* “(Scola) is spectacular,” Ujiri said. “When we spoke to teams that have had him, the one thing (that kept coming up) was you can’t keep him out of the gym. He keeps coming & practice & practice and working out. He’s just that kind of guy. He’s built that way. He’s made himself very durable for a long time. He’s going to add to us. Super person. Super family. We’re excited to have him.”
* “(new additions) come from winning programs,” Ujiri said. “They’ve won where they’ve been. They understand how to create a culture of winning basketball. Being around these guys these last few weeks has been so impressive, just the way they carry themselves on the court, around their teammates, even the people who work here. They’ve been phenomenal for us. We’re excited to add those guys.”
“I know they’ll bring more than basketball on the court, especially guys like Scola & Cory,” Continued. “I couldn’t believe it. They played on [a] Saturday in Mexico [for FIBA Americas]. & they were in here on Monday w/lifting. It says a lot about them. DeMarre has been here the last couple of weeks [as well]. It’s impressive. Hopefully all of those good traits translate to the court & win.”
* “Kyle put his nose to the grind & did that all himself,” Casey said. “He’s the one who had his own trainer. He had his own regimen that he went through this summer that most of our guys probably couldn’t make it through. He ran the hills in Vegas, he did a lot of stuff that he did on his own. & my hat is off to him for doing that because he could’ve relaxed & took the summer off but he didn’t. He knew what he had to do & he did it.”
* “It's a new day, a new year, media day,” Lowry said. “It's a new training camp, now we've got to do something with it.”
Valanciunas' continual end-of-game absences have been routine throughout his first 3 years, but they were a bigger topic of discussion last season as he developed into one of the league's most efficient post scorers. Dwane Casey knew that some people wished things would change, & he brought the subject up unprompted on Monday.
"There's been a lot made about JV finishing games," Casey said. "Well, he's getting to the point of his career, w/the experience, that he should be able to do that. I noticed they didn't use him as much in Europe at the end of games, but we plan to use him, especially offensively, down the stretch.
"Father time is a great teacher & developer of those kind of situations," Casey added.
If Casey is to sit Valanciunas, there's no longer a veteran safety net.
Biyombo is the backup center, & Toronto's troupe of power forwards -- Patterson, Scola & Bennett -- don't have the size to easily shift up a position.
For Valanciunas, this is a chance for a true breakout. He's made progress in each of his 3 years, but has never averaged more than the 28.2 minutes he did in 2013-14. Toronto will be looking for him to become more mobile on defense, protect the paint & avoid foul trouble. He said that he's ready & in shape to play a lot of minutes, especially after a strong showing at EuroBasket for the silver medal-winning Lithuanian team. It's his time now.