Former Raptors and current Pistons head coach Dwane Casey appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday afternoon and had nothing but good things to say about his former star DeMar DeRozan to hosts Brian Geltzeiler and David Griffin. “DeMar DeRozan is like a son. I love the young man . . . The first person I met when I walked into Toronto, into the press conference was DeMar DeRozan. He was there, coat and tie suit, his second year in the league, young kid: ‘Coach I’m here, I’m yours’ . . . “I look at him and he’s a big part of what I look back on in Toronto, watching that young man grow, watching him become a 3, 4-time All-Star, All-Pro in his career. When I first got there, when he ran a pick-and-roll he’d throw that joker three rows up in the stands. The last two, three years he was our best pick-and-roll player. We put him in pick-and-rolls just as much as Kyle (Lowry), running the show because of the size, passing ability and that type of thing.”
Along with the high risk, however, comes a high reward, which is why the Raptors were willing to make the deal. Should Leonard prove to be healthy, they’ll be one of the main contenders to win the Eastern Conference this season. Plus, they’ll have the next nine months to convince Leonard to stay in Toronto and re-sign for the long term. So how does Raptors president Masai Ujiri plan on going about that? Well, he explained as much on a recent appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, The Woj Pod. “We are who we are. We are going to be prepared, we are going to make things as smooth… I think you want to be genuine, you want to be real. You know, this is who we are. We might not be the best ones in weather, but we might be the best ones in many other places: the diversity, the city, the uniqueness of a place like [Toronto], fans, the atmosphere. I think those things are so unique, it’s beginning to show everywhere.”
Kawhi Leonard will soon be in Toronto in preparation for his first season with the Raptors. The four-time NBA All-Star forward will be a free agent next summer, but a source has told The Undefeated that he will be open-minded about re-signing with the Raptors. Even so, the Los Angeles-area native posing with Lakers legend Kobe Bryant after working out in Newport Beach, California, on Thursday night will only add to the intrigue of Leonard potentially coming home to sign with the Lakers. While Leonard was injured with the San Antonio Spurs last season, there were numerous reports that he wanted to resume his career in Los Angeles.