TORONTO - Amir Johnson was the last Raptor to report to camp, but his recovery from off-season ankle surgery appears well on track.
A noticeably bigger Johnson – he said he was up to 256 pounds after finishing a grueling season at 235 – pegged his ankle at 95%.
New Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said he liked what he saw from Johnson and the rest of the team.
“I saw no symptoms of his ankle,” Casey said.
“Health wise I thought we were in good shape. We’ll see after tonight, but I saw no ill effects of anyone’s summer whatsoever.”
Johnson joked that his weight gain was a result of spending the off-season “drinking Canadian brew,” before elaborating on his rehab.
While extremely unrealistic, Johnson is setting the bar for his season as high as possible.
“One of my goals is to try to get defensive player of the year, that’s what I’m looking forward to … offence comes second,” Johnson said.
That’s the type of attitude Casey is looking for.
His first practice as Raptors head coach was entirely based on defence. The only offence the club produced was at the free throw line.
“We’re a work in progress defensively,” Casey admitted.
“The number one thing we talked about was changing the culture and we started that process today.
“The culture of toughness and a defensive focus.”
Casey said he wasn’t nervous to get started, maybe a little anxious. Definitely excited.
He added that working in new additions over the next few days (Mickael Pietrus and Gary Forbes are the strongest possibilities) would force him to repeat some things in practice, but didn’t see that as a bad thing at all.
After finally being officially unveiled as the first Canadian Raptor, Toronto-born Jamaal Magloire sounded ecstatic to be wearing Raptors colours.
“This doesn’t happen very often. I get an opportunity to come home and I’m so happy,” Magloire said.
The former Eastern Commerce and Kentucky standout said he wants to lead by example and set the tone on defence.
Casey is fine with that.
“He brings that level of toughness I’m looking for,” Casey said.
“He can be a spokesman for myself and the coaching staff because they run the same defence in Miami as what we’re trying to do here.
“That pack it in, zone it up defensive mentality and again he’s preaching the same terminology as we are as a coaching staff, but he’s still effective knocking people on their butts.”
Magloire said though it was only Day 1, he was impressed with his new teammates.
“Very athletic and they’re very eager,” was his assessment.
“You can see already that they want to get better and they want to turn the franchise around.”