Raptors Notes: Dragic, Siakam, Vaccination Status

Goran Dragic doesn’t know how long he’ll be with the Raptors, but he’s willing to accept whatever role the team wants him to play, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The veteran guard was acquired from the Heat this summer in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. There were rumors at the time that he might be shipped to Dallas, but that deal never materialized.

With a $19.5MM expiring contract, the 35-year-old point guard could become a valuable trade chip before the February deadline. A report this week said no deal involving Dragic appears imminent, and Toronto has little incentive to pursue a buyout before the deadline arrives.

Dragic used Monday’s media day to repeat an apology for comments he made to Slovenian reporters last month indicating that he didn’t want to be with the Raptors. He told Smith that his statement was taken out of context.

“You know, it came out wrong. I did apologize and I want to apologize right now, too,” Dragic said. “It was not my intention. But you know, the organization and the players, they welcomed (me). It was really nice; all the guys are nice. They want me, you know, to feel comfortable and I do feel comfortable here, for the past two weeks.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Pascal Siakam hasn’t been cleared for contact yet in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, but the Raptors are optimistic about his progress, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “He looks good,” said general manager Bobby Webster. “He’s in a really positive head space. I think he’s happy and ready to go.” Siakam has been working out on his own at the team’s practice facility, and coach Nick Nurse hopes he’ll be ready relatively early in the season (Twitter link). American Thanksgiving, which falls on November 25, could be a realistic target date, tweets Michael Grange of The Athletic.
  • Lowry’s departure leaves Siakam as the team leader for the first time in his career, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen suggests that Siakam may benefit from a month or so of not playing, which will give him a chance to study his teammates and see the best ways he can help. “We had a conversation with Masai (Ujiri), and it was me, it was OG (Anunoby) and it was Fred (VanVleet),” Siakam said. “Everyone else is gonna be young. … ‘We’re gonna go wherever you guys take us.’ I think that’s the focus. … I don’t like the word ‘the guy.’ I don’t like using it. I want to be the guy who wins. I want to win. I remember when we went to Vegas for dinner and I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Damn, I feel like I’m the oldest here.’ It was weird, a weird feeling I never had before. It’s gonna be a process, but I’m excited about it.”
  • Visiting players who haven’t been vaccinated will be able to receive a National Interest Exemption to play in Toronto, according to The Athletic. They must test negative after arriving in Canada and won’t be able to leave the team hotel, other than to go to Scotiabank Arena. Raptors players are almost fully vaccinated and the team expects to reach that status by opening night, according to Murphy (Twitter link).
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