Despite running up at the end of next season, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey’s contract situation is a hot-button topic among the team’s fan base.
One person who Casey won’t need to still try and win over, however, is star point guard Kyle Lowry, who offered his coach a very definitive endorsement on ESPN podcast The Lowe Down with host Zach Lowe.
“He’s done a good job, man,” Lowry said. “They always say the grass ain’t always greener on the other side. So, for a guy who’s got me into a situation where I’ve gotten paid, I’m an all-star, I’m going to go and say, ‘listen, if he’s back, he’s back. I want him back.’ That’s one of those things where you’ve known a guy so long, but that’s not my decision.”
Lowry isn’t kidding when he talks about how much his career has taken off under Casey. The Raptors coach has been there with Lowry since the former Villanova star first arrived in Toronto and under his care, Lowry’s seen his production increase every season to the point that saw him become an all-star last season and earn a four-year, $48-million contract.
This has all stemmed from a very healthy relationship between coach and player that that Lowry says has only become stronger over time.
“Casey's an unbelievable person and the nicest guy in the world,” Lowry said. “On the floor he's that old-school, southern, hard-nosed type of coach. I think me and him, our relationship has really grown throughout the years and he's learned to trust me, and I think I've learned to trust him, and I think that's why we have a better relationship.”
Other topics Lowry discussed on the podcast include his thoughts on DeMar DeRozan’s game, what exactly Masai Ujiri told him when the Raptors president and general manager first got the gig and the control he had over the team’s recent re-branding.
Here are some of the highlights:
DeRozan the best shooting guard in the league?
“I feel like he is the best two-guard in the league, to me personally. I think he's just got better every year, and I think once he starts shooting the three ball more consistently he will be the best.
“He's not top one now, he's top three. I think once he starts shooting the three, and I always get on him about shooting the three, and I think he's just more comfortable getting to the basket whenever he wants. I mean, look at him, no one's really stopping him from getting to the basket whenever he wants. You get comfortable with knowing your game and you can't get mad at him for a guy who's averaging 22 points a night when he doesn't even shoot threes.”
DeRozan’s long twos
“I don't even think that's a bad shot because he works on them. You can't call it a bad shot if you work on that shot. If you work on, 'Okay, I'm going to come off this pin down, he's going to shoot the gap, I'm going to take a pump fake, I'm going to dribble left, pump fake again, hit him with my shoulder hit, fadeaway.' I see him work on these shots. I can't say it's a bad shot, to be honest.
“You can say it's a bad shot, yeah. In all reality of basketball it's a bad shot, but I've seen that man work on that shot. You can't call it a bad shot.”
Ujiri’s reported face-to-face meeting challenging Lowry
“I was in the transitioning period myself and trying to figure out my game – it was still growing – and knowing what I wanted to be and knowing where I wanted to be, how I wanted to be there. It was a good conversation.
“It wasn't a, 'you better do this.' It was more like, 'listen, you've got the talent to be this type of player,' but with the way people perceive you and the perception is not always the truth.
“People always say, 'Oh, my teammates don't like me,' but I guarantee you, you ask any of my teammates, they love me. Yeah, my first couple years I played for four different coaches, but that wasn't my fault. People say different things here and there but it was just a conversation like, 'hey, this is how you can be,' and it was just about growing up.”
Lowry and DeRozan involved in the re-brand?
“Everything was supposed to go black and gold, but DeMar didn't want to do that because he's been here with the red and the white and the Canadian colours. Listen, our colours are red and white. This is what it is. Let's leave it how it is. We're Canada's team.”
The Lowry pitch to prospective free agents
“Toronto Raptors organization is A-one. We've got a new practice gym being built. There's no budget on how happy or how good we can make things here. Whatever's the best way to do it, they will do it.
“We have a hell of a leader in Masai, he's a great leader. Our owner is probably the best owner in the NBA with Mr. Tanenbaum. We've got great players, good team, and [said very cheekily] right now the American dollar is a lot more powerful than the Canadian dollar so everything you buy is cheaper. A year ago it was even, but right now you just use that credit card and the exchange is pretty good right now.”
You can listen to the full interview here.