Raptors suddenly older, wiser
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
TORONTO - They say it takes a whole village to raise a child.
In the Raptors’ case the analogy is an influx of veterans that, if everything goes according to plan, will transform the Raptors from a good offensive team with huge defensive issues to a more well-rounded roster.
To that end, three of the four roster spots that have been filled over the last few days have been done so by veterans here as much for what they can do for the others in the lineup as what they can do themselves on the court.
Torontonian Jamaal Magloire signed on with his 11 years in the league and immediately became a vocal and physical presence in practice.
Next up was Rasual Butler who brings has 10 years in the league and a defensive mindset that he can push on the younger Raps.
The latest arrival is Anthony Carter, a 37-year-old veteran of 12 NBA seasons with five teams and Carter, like Magloire and Butler knows what is expected of him.
“I thought this would be a great fit for me,” he said of Toronto. “I like to play with guys who get out and run, are athletic, who can play defence and I think I can bring that to this team. Some of the other teams that might have been interested in me like to slow the ball down and that’s not really my game. I’m quick paced, push the ball and play great defence. I get my satisfaction on the defensive end.”
Head coach Dwane Casey had Carter with him in Minnesota in his first head coaching experience in the NBA and knew exactly what he was getting when he and Bryan Colangelo sat down to go over players that could help this team.
“He’s like an old pair of socks,” Casey said with as much sincerity as you can have comparing a man to old socks. “Everywhere he has been he has started out as a third guard and by the end of the day he just moves his way up and earns his minutes. He did that with George (Karl) in Denver. I had him in Minny and Mike D’Antoni had him in New York. He’s a great insurance policy, a great mentor.”
And when he speaks it’s like listening to a coach. That too is no accident.
“He wants to get into coaching and the front office,” Casey said. “I told him to come and be a part of the coaches’ meetings. I love him. He’s a solid man. He reminds me a lot of a young Johnny Davis (already on Casey’s staff). I have the utmost respect for him and I think he will add to the style of play we want to have. He’s a great mentor for our young players.”
Chief among those players will be young point guard Jerryd Bayless who Carter has already identified as one of his projects.
“You really can’t say anything to a player until you’ve been around him on the court, but trust me, as the season goes on and training camp goes on, I’ll be in his ear and I’ll keep him right,” Carter said.
Carter can’t recall the last time he played on a roster that had this much youth: “College probably,” he said. But he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“If I can get these guys going on the defensive end I know they will get out and get layups and get dunks,” he said. “These guys can play defence. They just need someone to motivate them and I’m that guy. It starts with the point guard.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Carter either.
Normally a third point guard would only see minutes at the end of blow outs or in the case of an injury, but the condensed schedule means backups are going to see more minutes than they normally would.
“Great time for a third point guard because you are going to have rapid-fire games, 17 games in how ever many nights that first month,” Casey said. “Someone is going to have to be super human to handle those kind of minutes.”
And when Carter isn’t getting minutes he’ll be mentoring, something last year’s roster was extremely thin on, whether his teammates want to hear it or not.
“I tell them all the time you don’t have to like me off the court but you do have to play with me on it,” he said.
“I’m your friend on the court. Off the court, I don’t have to see you so I’m going to yell at you and do whatever I have to and you can do the same thing to me. We come in this gym, we have to get the job done and then you go your way and I’ll go mine.”