Raptors coach Dwane Casey and GM Masai Ujiri held a joint press conference today, an hour or so after the Raptors released a statement confirming that Casey and the team have an agreement in principle on a new three-year contract. Casey and Ujiri touched on that deal and other offseason priorities for Toronto, as we detail:
- Ujiri tried to engage Casey in talks about an extension while the team was treading water early in the season, but the coach decided to leave that discussion until after the season, notes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Casey didn’t think about testing the market once the season was over, believing it would have been disingenuous for him to do so, Wolstat adds (Twitter links).
- Keeping free agent point guard Kyle Lowry is indeed a key priority for the team, Ujiri said, suggesting that Lowry’s affection for the Raptors will make negotiations easier, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Casey had each player sign a document after the All-Star break stating their commitment to the team, and Lowry was the first to sign, observes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star (Twitter link).
- Ujiri said the team’s primary focus will be on keeping its own free agents and retaining the core of the team, as Smith and Wolstat pass along (Twitter links). Grange gets the sense that the Raptors intend to re-sign Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, both of whom will hit restricted free agency this summer (Twitter link).
- Casey identified Vasquez as a cornerstone and called him perhaps the most confident player on the team, according to Grange (on Twitter).
- Size on the wing and maybe a shot blocker are the team’s most significant needs, Ujiri said, but the GM cautions that he’ll allow the Raptors to grow gradually and won’t look for a quick fix, as Grange notes in a pair of tweets.