Tyler Hansbrough comes to the Toronto Raptors with a well-deserved reputation as an agitator, especially on the defensive end.
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound power forward said it is a role he hopes to continue with his new NBA club.
“Just coming to a team where I’m appreciated and then I can come out here and be a big part of it,” Hansbrough said on Monday from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
“When we looked at the team, and I talked to my agent, I was like, ‘Yeah, I feel like I’d be a big picture here. Bring a lot of toughness, some leadership, and really help out the team.’
“So that was really exciting to me.”
Hansbrough was in town to take his physical, which he passed.
Afterward, the 27-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Raptors with a team option for a second worth a reported $2.5-million (all currency U.S.) per year.
Hansbrough spent the first four years of his career with the Indiana Pacers where last season he averaged seven points a game and 4.6 rebounds with the majority of his playing time (16.9 minutes) coming off the bench.
But it wasn’t for his offensive prowess that Masai Ujiri, the Raptors new general manager, decided to bring Hansbrough to Toronto.
“Toughness, grit, a winner for sure,” Ujiri said. “He’s won every step of the way. We want to add those kinds of players.”
One of Ujiri’s goals next season is to make the Raptors, who have failed to make the playoffs for five years in a row, a meaner club to contend with.
Hansbrough, a high-energy player, will certainly provide additional edge to a team that stumbled to a 34-48 record in 2012-13.
He will give the Raptors a solid one-two punch at power forward when combined with Amir Johnson, who is expected to be the starter.
Ujiri said that coach Dwane Casey is delighted by the addition in that it will give him an additional weapon to utilize on the defensive end.
The Raptors have a team currently playing in the Las Vegas Summer League with a roster that includes Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy and Jonas Valanciunas, who were on the NBA roster last season for the Raptors.
The seven-foot Valanciunas has been turning heads so far with his rugged play, throwing down 19 points to go along with 13 rebounds in an 82-76 victory over San Antonio on Sunday.
“He’s played tough, he’s got great energy, is trying to keep the ball above him when he rebounds,” Ujiri said. “Jonas is making good progress I think. He showed that the last couple of games.”
But Ujiri tempered his remarks noting that the competition is not exactly NBA grade.
“The summer league is summer league,” Ujiri said. “The real deal is September.”
Ujiri said that no decision has been made if the Raptors plan to utilize their salary amnesty clause for this coming season.
A leading candidate would appear to be Linas Kleiza, whose chronic knee problems kept him sidelined for most of last season.
Kleiza is slated to earn $4.6-million with the Raptors this year.