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All appears effectively in Toronto Raptors camp with season opener days away Categorical Occasions

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Full and uninterrupted concord amongst a bunch of millionaires and soon-to-be millionaires spending the higher a part of eight to 10 consecutive months collectively is, in a phrase, unattainable.

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The nice groups handle the rifts and disputes and hold the deal with the one aim of profitable collectively. The good ones play for each other and truly get pleasure from one another’s firm.

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The dangerous one’s by no means fairly get a deal with on the rising divide that will get so huge it will definitely eliminates any probability of constructing an actual crew.

The Raptors — and solely these within the room and throughout the crew know this for certain — had been most likely nearer to the latter a 12 months in the past than the previous.

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All for one and one for all was left behind in some unspecified time in the future and people cracks and rifts grew into holes throughout the crew that prevented that group even coming near enjoying optimum basketball.

A giant a part of this Raptors coaching camp and possibly the largest cause for optimism for a crew that has created little profitable buzz outdoors of its personal room is the obvious lack of that underlying rigidity inside this roster.

Group concord is fleeting and may change at a second’s discover, however for now the sensation round this crew is that concord has been reached. We conclude this not primarily based on one participant or one coach saying that’s so — anybody can say something is true — however primarily based on varied gamers, significantly gamers who’ve each conceivable cause to be extra apprehensive about their very own well-being than that of the crew they play for, who’ve put apart conditions that might be simply perceived as detrimental to their very own success to champion the crew trigger over their very own.

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When the pre-season opened, there have been questions in regards to the futures of three key Raptors, all of them on the ultimate 12 months of their contract and any of them possible candidates to stroll away from the crew on the finish of the 12 months.

Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors walk up court.
Pascal Siakam, from left, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors stroll up courtroom throughout the first half of an exhibition sport towards the Cairns Taipans at Scotiabank Enviornment on Oct. 15, 2023 in Toronto. Siakam and Trent can each be free brokers after this season. Picture by Cole Burston /Getty Pictures

Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr are all in that boat to today. They are often provided extensions till June, however to this point there was little suggestion that’s occurring. Masai Ujiri mentioned as a lot in his first public handle of the brand new season in September.

Nothing seems to have modified with Sport 1 of 82 quick approaching.

However what has modified is the temper round this crew.

Trent seems to have disregarded what might have simply been taken as a knock on his sport when he principally introduced he can be coming off the bench quite than beginning. As he recommended, the “writing’s on the wall” in the event you go by how he has been used this coaching camp.

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However quite than pout or bemoan his state of affairs, Trent has opted to lean into it and thrived within the function of first man off head coach Darko Rajakovic’s bench.

His pledge to willingly do regardless of the crew wants of him to win video games is a sentiment beforehand said by Siakam and once more yesterday by Scottie Barnes, who just isn’t in any jeopardy of a lesser function, however is adamant that he’s able to do no matter it takes to win.

A 12 months in the past, the suspected rift between the established — Siakam, Fred VanVleet and to a lesser diploma Thad Younger — with the nonetheless ascending group that features Barnes was problematic.

However on Sunday it was Siakam positively gushing in regards to the camp Barnes simply went via and the constructive modifications he has seen in 12 months 3 for the previous rookie of the 12 months, whereas Barnes returned the type phrases in comparable style pointing to a relationship that advantages each gamers.

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“I believe for me, I identical to his method to the sport,” Siakam mentioned of Barnes this fall. “He’s coming in each single day. I see him in observe, like he simply has the identical focus. I can see him simply working laborious. And you may inform in his eyes, like, he desires the chance to proceed to get higher. And I like how aggressive he’s, having enjoyable on the market enjoying basketball.”


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Barnes, who adopted Siakam to the courtside microphones that await a number of gamers and the top coach following each observe, reiterated his respect for Siakam’s sport, however took it additional than that, too.

“I believe I mentioned it my first 12 months: Pascal is my favorite participant, simply seeing what he does on the ground, having the ability to rating the ball at a particularly excessive fee,” Barnes mentioned. “He hits me quite a bit on these dunker passes when groups double him. Pascal, he can do all of it on the market on the ground, rebound, push it in transition, having the ability to rating in transition, spin strikes.”

No matter fences that require fixing on this crew stemming from final 12 months, getting these two gamers in lockstep must be proper on the high of the record.

However all of these issues are good early indicators.

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Rajakovic, who’s on the very centre of resetting the Raptors’ identification, likes the early indications he’s seeing.

“We now have a terrific crew chemistry,” Rajakovic mentioned. “Our guys simply get pleasure from being round one another. I believe that being seven days in Vancouver, being round one another, was very, crucial for us. We had a terrific crew dinner over there with the fellows. We had a bunch of snickers. And I believe these moments are crucial. However for now, our guys (are) doing a extremely good job with that.”

If reminiscence serves, comparable sentiments had been mentioned early on a 12 months in the past earlier than issues went the opposite manner. So sure, sustaining this constructive chemistry throughout the crew dynamic goes to be essential as a result of no one desires a repeat of final season.

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Concern not, Barnes appears no worse for put on.

Some ache in his foot following an ungainly touchdown in Friday’s closing pre-season sport had the crew trustworthy and Barnes himself slightly scared, however these considerations seem to have been untimely.

Barnes was a full participant in observe on Sunday, three days prematurely of the season opener on Wednesday at residence towards Minnesota.

“Feels good,” Barnes mentioned of the foot. “Just a bit tweak.”

However he admitted he wasn’t so certain within the second.

“It was hurting quite a bit,” he mentioned. “At any time when I get like slightly ankle tweak, I get actually scared. You already know, I’ve had a few of these in my … previous. So simply being cautious about it. That was simply the principle factor.”


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