Raptors coach Nick Nurse says players, staff in ‘constant discussion’ about protests

The Toronto Raptors could lastly get an opportunity to renew their title defence if the NBA restarts late subsequent month in Orlando.

However coach Nick Nurse mentioned for the reason that dying of George Floyd two weeks in the past, and the worldwide anti-racism protests it sparked, basketball has been the very last thing on the minds of his coaches and gamers.

“All people’s sort of held their palms up and mentioned all of us must do higher, all of us must make this extra of a focus, all of us want extra of an essential function,” Nurse mentioned on a convention name Tuesday. “The final 10 days, two weeks have been just about fixed dialogue.”

Nurse was among the many league’s head coaches who participated in a Zoom name on Saturday. A sub-committee together with Lloyd Pierce, Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, David Fizdale and Stan Van Gundy was then shaped to find out some motion plans.

“There’s a historic alternative to make some lasting change and I believe all of us have to participate in that,” Nurse mentioned.

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The coach mentioned the group has had considerate discussions which have led to a deeper understanding and “perhaps even a closeness amongst our workers and gamers.”

“It was a number of private examples that perhaps guys hadn’t shared with their teammates or with me, and I suppose because it hits nearer to house, these guys discuss being pulled over by police, and the way they have been handled — plenty of tales that for no matter motive they did not discuss actually earlier than,” he mentioned.

A number of gamers posted pictures and video on social media of weekend Black Lives Matter protests they attended, together with Kyle Lowry, who was among the many huge crowd in his hometown of Philadelphia.

“He’s definitely one of many stars of the league and our group so his profile and platform are enormous,” Nurse mentioned. “I definitely know that it is one thing actually near his coronary heart . . . I commend him. I believe he is an amazing chief, I believe he units an awesome instance for gamers within the league, I believe he units an awesome instance for his personal youngsters, he units an awesome instance for our group.”

The Raptors have been second within the Japanese Convention at 46-18 when COVID-19 compelled the league to close down on March 11.

Tentative return date set

The league is tentatively scheduled to restart on July 31 with 22 groups primarily based at Disney World. Every group would play eight video games to find out seeding for the playoffs, which might see conventional seven-game sequence. The ultimate can be held in October.

Whereas gamers are scheduled to report to groups by June 21, Nurse mentioned it is not decided the place the Raptors will convene.

“We have sort of considered a number of eventualities and gone by means of every a type of, we’ve not actually made a closing resolution on a date to reconvene or the place we’re going or any of that sort of stuff but,” Nurse mentioned. “We have made plans on each side of the border.”

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He mentioned the important thing to teaching can be flexibility. And he mentioned it is essential the group maintains a optimistic perspective.

“It is most likely going to really feel completely different than you anticipated it to after which you are going to have to start out making changes. Your perspective day-to-day goes to get challenged another way, so how are you going to have the ability to — for lack of a greater phrase — hold folks from simply complaining? ‘Man, it is too sizzling, the solar’s out,’ or ‘It is too chilly, the air-conditioning,’ no matter.

“You are going to should attempt to hold an extra-positive perspective for starters, and you are going to should flow and perceive stepping into that that is going to be completely different.”

Nurse mentioned the Raptors are lucky to be each house and street group, so they need to be “good in impartial” as properly.

“This group likes to play, we like to compete, we like to attempt to determine issues out, and on the finish of the day every thing else that is happening once you lastly get there and the ball goes up, are you able to laser focus in and get the job at hand accomplished?”

Lowry, Gasol ‘look good’

Nurse mentioned whereas there was little discuss of taking part in, he is assured his gamers are in first rate form. There have been weekly weigh-ins, and no “pink flags.” There was a photograph of a trimmed-down Marc Gasol making the rounds on social media lately, and Nurse mentioned Gasol’s face has appeared slim on Zoom calls.

“I believe each him and Kyle look good,” he mentioned.

Gasol had performed simply 36 video games this season attributable to a nagging hamstring damage. He is considered one of a number of key Raptors gamers to overlook sizable chunks of this season.

Nurse cannot wait to have a wholesome Gasol again within the lineup.

“He is an enormous pillar on each ends. He is again there on defence directing visitors, defending the rim, speaking, getting guys by means of screens. He simply does every thing again there defensively and most of it is along with his expertise and his IQ,” the coach mentioned.

“I might additionally add this too — I factor Marc [being] so out and in this yr has actually made Serge [Ibaka] play loads higher. Serge has been higher, he is improved, he is received extra alternatives, so I believe that is solely going to assist us.”

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