Dwane Casey wouldn’t let Kyle Lowry sub out of drills Tuesday, saying that Toronto’s new point guard needed to run and shake off some rust.
While the Raptors coach is confident Lowry is ready to run the offence intellectually, physically he’s got some ways to go after missing almost two weeks of training camp with a groin injury.
“He looked good,” Casey said after Tuesday’s practice at the Air Canada Centre. “Mentally he’s there, physically he’s still working, he worked a little longer. . . just because he needs to run, he needs to work, and he understands that.
“But he’s on top of what we’re doing offensively.”
Lowry, who’s watched his team’s first three pre-season games from the bench, is expected to make his Raptors debut Wednesday when Toronto hosts the Washington Wizards.
Lowry, known as a vocal and demanding leader, made some immediate noise at Toronto’s training camp in Halifax, barking out orders in scrimmages. His measure of toughness and sky-high confidence was part of what attracted the Raptors when they acquired him in the off-season.
But the 26-year-old, who could supplant Jose Calderon in the starting spot, hurt his groin just three days in, sidelining him for nearly two weeks.
“Of course, me not being out there on the floor with my teammates, it was definitely difficult,” Lowry said. “I want to be out there competing and learning with them.”
Lowry, acquired in the summer from Houston for a first-round draft pick and Gary Forbes, said he’s not feeling any pain in his groin, and is confident his conditioning will come around before the team’s opener Oct. 31 versus the visiting Indiana Pacers.
“I’m still fatigued. I had 10, 12 days off for resting and rehab so my conditioning isn’t there, but there’s time, I’ve got 15 days to get right,” he said.
Tuesday marked the midway point of a camp that certainly most players would consider too long.
“It gets to a point where you’re looking for somebody else to hit and they’re mad at me, they’re mad at each other,” Casey said. “They’re just looking for somebody else to focus on, and that’s the best thing about the regular-season starting.”
Casey, however, was thankful for four more pre-season games before the real season begins.
“We’ve got to get Kyle minutes where he gets a feel for the game, to knock the rust off,” the coach said.
Rookie centre Jonas Valanciunas could use the extra time too, having played just two games after missing the beginning of camp with a calf injury.
Calderon, meanwhile, said he’ll be ready to go Wednesday after coming out of last Friday’s game with a sore hamstring.
The point guard position had been touted as one of the battles to watch during camp, but it hasn’t played out as expected thanks to Lowry’s injury.
And John Lucas III has played well, throwing a “monkey wrench” into Casey’s decision making.
Calderon insisted having three decent point guards — with three different playing styles — can only be good for the team.
“It’s more difficult for other teams to adapt their defence to our offence, so we can play together, the three of us,” Calderon said. “I think it’s different looks, good for the team, every time you add talent to a team it’s going to be good.”
There’s a possibility Calderon and Lowry could see some minutes together on the floor, with either one playing shooting guard to the other’s point guard.
Calderon said he’d have no problem with that scenario.
“When you are there you just try to do your best, it doesn’t matter which position you’re playing, you just have to figure it out,” he said. “And we’re practising that, too, so everybody can play different positions.”