Big Cat keen to mentor Big V

Raptors' veteran Jamaal Magloire is expected to mentor first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas when he...

Raptors' veteran Jamaal Magloire is expected to mentor first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas when he joins the team next year. (QMI AGENCY)

Mike Ganter, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:53 PM ET

If you’re looking for Jamaal Magloire’s impact on a Raptors stats sheet, you’re likely to come away disappointed.

What the Big Cat does for the Raps isn’t found in the statistical measurables the league employs.

Magloire’s work, much of it, comes in the moments when he’s not on the court, when he’s in practice, setting a physical tone or on the bench reminding a teammate what has to be done.

Countless times this year Magloire has been the one up at the bench reminding a young player that shying away from contact is not an option.

He’s integral to what Dwane Casey has done this season, turning this previously soft roster into a team that while not the toughest in the league doesn’t get pushed around as much.

Casey makes a point of talking up all his players’ accomplishments both on the court and off so it’s not like Magloire’s contributions have been ignored.

This week however Magloire received an unexpected compliment from an anonymous source. The weekly Sports Illustrated poll asked NBA players who among them did they think had a future in coaching in the league.

Magloire did not win the poll, in fact didn’t come close to the Thunder’s Derek Fisher or Phoenix Suns’ guard Steve Nash, but he did get special mention as the only centre to have received a vote in the poll.

Magloire was appreciative of the mention and admitted coaching could very well be in his future, but coaching is not the extent of his interest in a post-basketball career.

“I see myself transitioning into something having to do with basketball,” Magloire said. “There are so many things I want to do, so many things I want to have my hands on. I love the broadcasting aspect of (the game), I love the coaching aspect and I also love the idea of working in a team’s head office. I wouldn’t limit myself to anything right now.”

And just to be clear, Magloire is talking a couple of years down the road.

“Obviously my goal is to work all three at some point but right now I’m a player,” he said. “I enjoy playing and I still have a lot of gas left in the tank.”

The Raptors — although nothing is set in stone — have some very specific plans for Magloire as well.

Asked about a coaching future for Magloire, head coach Dwane Casey admitted it’s a real possibility but only after joking that he might be better off pursuing mayor of Toronto than a coaching gig.

But like Magloire, Casey feels any talk of post-career opportunities for Magloire is a tad premature.

“I think he still wants to play longer and I think he’s capable of playing,” Casey said. “And with (Jonas) Valanciunas coming over next year (after a year in Lithuania), he gives us a great mentor for him.

“ I really think that unless something unforeseen happens this summer with his health or whatever, I think he would be really great in that situation. The decision hasn’t been made yet, we’re going to sit down and talk about it at the end of the season, but I like him in that role. He understands the league, he’s well respected in the league but I think he would be more effective if he were still in uniform.”

Magloire sounds like a man who has already given this plenty of thought.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Magloire said when the Valanciunas mentor role is raised. If that means taking him under my wing daily, during the summers and during the season, I don’t mind doing that. I would take it as a challenge. The most gratifying feeling is to watch someone grow and get better as a basketball player.”

Casey has a very good idea exactly how Magloire can help Valanciunas too.

“The thing with him is he’s going to have to learn the nuances of the NBA,” Casey said. “Screening, the timing of a screen, how to post up, how to box out without guys flopping on him. All those little things are things that Cat can show him and work with him in practice and demonstrate.”

Watch Magloire on the bench over these final dozen games and you will swear his coaching career has already started.

With the rookie Valanciunas on the way, his playing/coach role is only going to expand.

After that, who knows? Like Magloire said, he’ll take it “one step at a time.”

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca

 


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