The Toronto Raptors enter the 2017-18 season with a fairly prodigious task: to change without making real change. When team president Masai Ujiri met with the media following a second-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, his message was blunt, stating that the franchise needed a “culture reset,” words that have hung over the club all summer long. Ujiri went on to talk about the need to catch up to the modern-day style of play, which essentially boils down to swifter ball movement, a faster-pace and an emphasis on creating more three-point opportunities. He backed head coach Dwane Casey, under whom the Raptors had, in part due to their personnel on the roster, operated a fairly archaic offensive system that saw them rank dead last in passing. Then he re-signed Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, keeping the core of his team intact. But despite the continuity on the bench and on the floor, the Raptors know they’ll need to evolve and adapt in order to compete and avoid digression. “The general theme is style of play,” general manager Bobby Webster said Thursday morning on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, when asked what changes the team is addressing heading into this season, “Obviously three-point shooting is part of that, but also ball movement and understanding what defences are trying to make your offence do.” Apart from the way the game is played across the league, this past off-season has brought a ton of changes to the landscape of the NBA and the Eastern Conference, as well. Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, transforming his former team, the Indiana Pacers, from one with perennial playoff hopes to what is now full-out rebuild mode. Chicago dealt Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and, like Indiana, have gone from a playoff team to one suddenly hitting the reset button. The Miami Heat added a talented and versatile set of big men in Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo, and are reportedly among a handful of teams with a chance to sign Dwyane Wade (though Cleveland is believed to be the favourite).
Raptors GM: We’re not expecting players to change overnight
Sportsnet | Sep 14