Raptors Insider: Player-only meetings are over the top

One of the consistently overrated things that can happen over the course of an up and down NBA season is the impact “players only meetings” have on a team.

In the wake of a Raptors rally last week after an ugly loss in Brooklyn, a small group chat took place.

It wasn’t huge nor particularly contentious and while they’ve played better since that night, it’s wrong to put too much stock into the meeting.

“Just talk things out,” one player said this week.

Otherwise there is not much to see.

If there are two things that become clear from being around NBA players for a few years, it’s this:

If they don’t play well, they know they don’t play well and it doesn’t matter who points it out. They all know.

And the “meetings” just confirm that, no swearing, no yelling, just a “hey we need to get our heads out of our butts and quick” kind of thing,

It’s sort of what happens every day, but with a larger group involved and to suggest that they are the antidote to all breakdowns defies logic and history.

As one man put it this week, “We were bad. We wanted to let everyone know that it’s going to be okay.”

And they will be.

The Raptors are a good team that has a chance to get really good and if things aren’t going perfectly now, well, that’s just part of the grind of a season.

Talking helps, sure. But good health, even average shooting, defending and ball movement for a few nights will do much more for a team’s success rate or confidence than a chat in the locker room.

The other thing that has become clear privately and publicly this week goes hand in hand with that.

When the Raptors are having a hard time, they don’t want to hear too much about it from the outside. It’s all well and good for them to criticize themselves in the privacy of the dressing room, but they tend to get angry when pointed out. They know things are not going well, but they are sure they will turn around.

Before the Lakers game, Nick Nurse objected to a mild suggestion that things were going badly.

“I would never associate the word ‘bad’ with this team,” he said. “Never. It’s a good team.”

That’s why talking about it helps, almost as much as a few shots and good passes.

Anything but basketball

Once upon a time there was a post-game chat with players that revolved around that night’s game, perhaps the next opponent. Basically, basketball stuff.

Those days are over.

After Wednesday’s victory over the Lakers, Fred VanVleet had to talk social media moves and Chris Boucher drifted to wrestling as talks flew in all directions.

VanVleet, apparently unfollowing some people, explained it this way, as if it were something important that everyone should care about.

“I’m just trying to fight the algorithms, man. I check my page and it’s like all the (things) I don’t follow. . . ,” VanVleet said. … “So stupid of me, let’s unfollow everyone and see if it helps. It didn’t help, someone got wind of that and said, ‘Oh, I unfollowed all my teammates.’ I also unfollowed my mom, she didn’t care.

“It takes more than a few bad shooting games to lose my mind.”

And Boucher made an unsolicited comment about his injured buddy Precious Achiuwa.

“I miss my teammate, you know what I mean. If it was a tag team champion, I’m loyal, I’m in a handicap match.

And what tag team would they be?

“We can be D-Generation X. I’m Shawn Michaels though.”

Prosport, 2022: About much more than prosport.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it leans towards the latter.

Koloko needs (play)time

Toronto Raptors forward Christian Koloko woke up early Monday to cheer for his Cameroonian side at the FIFA World Cup.

There is a lot to like about Christian Koloko, he is energetic, moves well on the floor, is a promising young shot blocker and should have a solid NBA career.

But as the season progresses and when Precious Achiuwa returns, Koloko will need – and benefit from – time in the G League.

Nurse mentioned it this week and it certainly seems inevitable. Achiuwa, Boucher, Thad Young and Khem Birch can handle the NBA load and Koloko needs a steady dose of playing time to work on all facets of his game.

New agent for nurse

Team Canada's Kia Nurse (left) is put under pressure by Astou Ndour of Spain during the Tokyo Olympics last August.

Probably more Raptor-adjacent than Raptor-specific, but still interesting.

Kia Nurse, who has a great job as a broadcaster and seems destined for a long career in television if she chooses, has a new basketball representation.

The WNBA broker – players can get new deals to be signed in early February, is now having the basketball side of her career managed by NBA agent and Toronto native Bernie Lee.

Lee, whose most famous NBA player is Miami’s Jimmy Butler, will work on a new WNBA deal for Nurse, whose out-of-court efforts remain the purview of Cimoroni and Company.

It’s Lee’s first foray into WNBA representation and a great combination of Canadian talent in two key aspects of the game.

“I believe she exemplifies everything about being a Canadian in basketball,” he said. “I look forward to working with her as she continues what will eventually become a Hall of Fame career.”

Call mail

Time to load Ye Olde Mailbag for Sunday morning and all it takes is an email to [email protected] to enter.

Saturday promises to be a World Cup day so if you could ask the questions early it would be appreciated.


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