There’s always a ton to sort through with Media Day, and so while we’ll get to more fun, bigger-picture stuff throughout the week, we need to get some minor updates out of the way. You’re not going to like some of them. We’ll have more on a lot of this stuff in the coming weeks.

DeMarre Carroll is not at 100 percent

Ahh yes, the perpetual “how healthy is DeMarre Carroll” conversation. Carroll seemed in better spirits than throughout the course of last year, with much more clarity about the health of his knee and, more importantly, far less swelling. Doctors instructed Carroll to take a month off following the season, after which he started rehabbing to regain strength. And while he’s still not back to 100 percent, necessitating the team bringing him along slowly in camp

“I’m in a good place. I see we’re progressing in the right way, it’s going in the right way, my rehab and training is going in the right way so I’m happy,” Carroll said, adding that he’s progressed to five-on-five play. “You have to trust the process and the leaders of that process.”

As for Carroll’s overall goals for the season, he’s focusing on health and letting his play speak for him from there, body willing.

“I just want to get through it healthy,” he said. “If I can get through a healthy year, you’ll see the best of me. If I’m not healthy, you’re not going to see the best of me.”

Delon Wright close to shooting, could sit until January

There’s some good news and bad news on the Delon Wright front. Wright told me Monday that he’s hoping to be diagnosed with a full range of motion – which means a return to shooting – sometime soon, perhaps even as soon as the start of training camp tomorrow.  While that may be optimistic, he’s definitely progressing, and he doesn’t look like the time off has cost him much of the size he was able to add before Summer League.

The unfortunate side of this is that it sounds as if initial recovery estimates may have been too liberal. The team’s release at the time said “at least” four months, with the very early part of that timeline falling in early December. Wright corrected that it’s more like late December or even early January, and that he’ll probably head to the D-League for a baseball-style rehab stint to shake the rust off.

So, yeah, hello Fred VanVleet. Or…

Jared Sullinger likely to start at power forward

As mentioned here a few times since the Raptors added Jared Sullinger, he’s the starting power forward unless something changes.

“I’m not going to commit to it, but right now, today, I would say Jared Sullinger, it’s his to lose,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “I consider Pat the sixth starter for me, but for the balance of the minutes, balance of the first unit-second unit, I would say Sullinger is the guy now that it would be his to lose, but I reserve the right to change my mind.”

Naturally, Patrick Patterson is playing the good soldier, as he did a season ago.

Transition defense is Casey’s biggest concern with a Sullinger-Jonas Valanciunas pairing, but the Raptors are aggressively addressing the potential offensive fit by getting their new acquisition acclimated with the location of his new office.

Kyle Lowry contract talk

Anyone hoping for clarity ahead of Kyle Lowry’s free agency next summer are just going to have to wait. Here’s Lowry, in what’s probably the last we’ll hear from him on the topic:

Honestly, this year, I’m not gonna really talk about it. I’ve never talked about it before, because how I look at every single season is I’m taking it game by game, day by day, possession by possession, practice by practice. That’s one thing that’s always been me. I’ve been here five years and I’ve never looked past this or that, I’ve always looked at it as a day by day thing. For me, I won’t focus on any of that, probably won’t answer it, because I’m really not focused on it.

A few people asked on Twitter about Lowry looking a little less lean than last year on media day, but I don’t think there’s much reason for concern there. While Lowry admitted that the Olympics prevented him from doing “the things I wanted to do and I did last summer, individually,” he referenced learning about his body and how to maintain it over the course of a season multiple times.

He knows what he’s doing and what’s on the line for him this year.

“I would not bet against Kyle, the way he works and the way he takes care of his body,” Masai Ujiri said.

No focus on win total

This is going to come up a bunch during preseason, but none of the Raptors had much interest in putting a measurable goal on the season. Responses ranged from “winning,” to “competing,” to “a ring,” and nearly to a man, the players talked about being “the best team we can be when the postseason begins,” or some iteration of that.

This makes sense. Last year’s team made a major leap, one that had evaded the franchise for a long time. Development isn’t linear and the Cleveland Cavaliers remain a major hurdle, and so what the Raptors can do over 82 games seems far less important than what they might be able to accomplish over seven.

“The next thing they always talk about is how we get to be a championship-level team,” Ujiri said. “And I’m not saying that we are, but I am saying that’s the right way to think. That’s the right mentality to have.”

The Brazilians remain entertaining, and other assorted notes

We back.

A photo posted by Blake Murphy (@eblakemurphy) on


  • Ashvin Chawla

    It’s cool how those guys are ribbing you now. That’s the sign of friendship or at least familiarity.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Haha yeah, some of the guys. Obviously has to stay closer to “familiarity” than “friendship” to make sure everything’s objective. I generally try to joke a bit to break the ice before talking real ball stuff, some of them give it right back, which is fun.

      • Dunkenstein

        Do you know if they read your columns and the comments section?

        I wonder if the co stand hard criticism here, much of it

        • BlakeMurphy

          I can’t imagine they wade into the comments. I’m sure some of them read their own press (I think Lowry once said “I see everything”), but I can’t let that change my approach. I’m sure if they do, some have been mad before and some have been fine.

  • Dunkenstein

    If Lowry has slipped a little he can easily lose 10 pounds betwe now and the end of camp. I hope he does so. I attribute last seasons weight loss to his most successful season.

  • Suspicious Mind

    Just finished all the interviews. These rookies are beauties. Poeltl’s IQ is off the charts and Siakam has the fierceness and tenacity I fear Bebe doesn’t. I see them contributing modestly well throughout the season. NP is gonna be a 10ppg minimum player. These 3 draft picks will be the reason this team is fighting for the East again and beyond in the coming years. I fucking love where this team is and how every person on the roster seems to have their priorities straight. This time last year I predicted the Raps would go to the ECF and put up a fight against the Cavs. This year I think we’re an injury to a starter away from beating the Cavs. Yep, I said it! Lebron’s run is over and your Raptors take the cake, assuming my hunch of a significant injury to a starter on the Cavs is true. Any takers on a friendly bet? If I win, you have to proclaim Suspicious Mind is a basketball genius 🙂 You can pick your own terms. Takers?

    • Mike$

      When ever i hear that the raptors are on the treadmill I say something similar (after bringing up that the team has improved every season). “Treadmilling” as the second best team in a conference isn’t a bad thing. For one anything can happen in a series, a few games with the hot hand or bad shooting from the other team means a trip to the finals. The big thing though is injuries can happen to anyone. If LBJ goes down, we’re number 1 in the East and if another starter goes down we could really make them sweat. Anything can happen.

      So no bets from me

      • ckh26

        If Lebron goes down its wiiiiiiiide open in the East.

        If one of Irving or Thompson or Love goes down there is an outside shot .. say 1:7 that the Raps can beat the Cavs in a 7 gamer… but the SOB Lebron is one tough competitor and still might have enough in the tank to take a series without Thompson or Irving.

        Without both it would be tough.

        • Henry Swagson

          To say the East is wide open is to either disrespect the raptors or overrate the competition. Last year it was Toronto and Cleveland head and shoulders above the competition. The #3-6 seeds were closer to the 10th place wizards than the 2nd seed raptors. Until the other teams play game to prove their so call “improvements” it’s cle and tor and then everyone else.

          • ckh26

            Hank.. very specifically I wrote the IF LEBRON GOES DOWN.. then the east is wide open.
            There is no respect or disrespect .. only the clear line of sight reasoning that if the best player in the league gets hurt then the team he plays for better have the 2nd best player in the league to backfill him. If they don’t and Cleveland doesn’t then thats what makes Cleveland vulnerable…

        • Coulj

          Kyrie really hurt us last year, without him we could have won that series.
          I would say if Lebron or Kyrie go down, we’ll have a strong chance of going through. It all depends , if we do not regress defensively with the lost of BB.
          The fact Carroll ‘s knee is not 100% is concerning.

      • Suspicious Mind

        Couldn’t agree more. Even this past year, with much less experience in ECF etc, the Raps could have made a move with an Irving injury for example. We’re right there, especially with the collective priorities of the franchise being exactly where it should be this year.

    • ckh26

      Which one of the two porcelain dolls are you leaning on breaking down.. .Love or Irving ? I will go with Irving.

      Suspicious Minds is a hybrid of Elvis and the The Fine Young Cannibals and music aficionado. If we win the East this year he will also be a basketball genius.

      • Suspicious Mind

        Haha…coming from you, I’ll take it. I’m not sure who it would be, but an injury to a guy like TT could have just enough of a negative effect to what the team does and how they operate for the Raps to pull one out. This continuity and experience thing is legit and can’t be under valued. Also, you don’t have to be a genius to see this team genuinely wants more and believe they can achieve it, and with all the up and coming talent like Norm pushing the stars, we’re as close to being ready as anyone in the East.

  • AllStar

    lowry needs to grow his hair back asap

  • E5H

    I’ve heard enough of those Chris Bosh less hair => less power jokes… Enough to believe ’em…

    P.S. Blake your Jays vs Yankees commentary is slaying me

    • BlakeMurphy

      Haha just wait until the Raptors’ first fight of the season.

  • NewMan

    Can Brady be brought along to finally Trade T-Ross? and open space to pay a Full Time Power Forward, enough of this one year try-out and hope … Biyombo / Sullinger works out on a 1 year, let me get paid deal …

  • R.D. Vaughan

    As mentioned with Deleon likely out longer than expected making VanVleet more likely to be taking the 15th roster slot leaves me with this question. Can Deleon’s roster position be filled while he’s on injury reserve? I’m think if Uthoff does well during pre-season have him be the 15th roster player and VanVleet be the designate player to cover for Deleon. I read where guarantee contracts for 905 players have a trigger date in early January or something to that effect.
    I’m likely getting my sports (e.g. baseball) rules mixed up as I suspect the answer is no, but I thought I’d ask. In the long term I’d rather Uthoff be the 15th man, assuming he can fulfil his 3&D promise.

  • n8

    I’m not too worried about Lowry because at the very least he was in game shape most of the summer due to the team USA involvement, and the new haircut just makes him look like his chunkier 1.0 self.