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Toronto Raptors news gathered from around the net.

Casey, Raptors Focused On Playing More Physical On Defense

Blue-collar defense is likely to be appreciated in Toronto more than in a lot of other NBA cities, based on the constructive influence of the Maple Leafs and the NHL in general.

"I call it the hockey mentality, because I know that's what the fans want to see," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "It's that type of physical play where you legally put your hands on people and be physical, body people when they cut through the paint. Those are things we're teaching -- how to do it legally without being called for fouls, and protecting the paint."

Via Ian Thomsen/SI.com

Aaron Gray Undergoing Tests For Irregular Heart Rate

Raptors center Aaron Gray is out of action indefinitely while he undergoes further monitoring and testing for a rapid heart rate.

The Raptors decided to withhold Gray from game action after consulting with league cardiologist Dr. Allan Schwartz.

Gray will still be able to participate in full contact practices, the team said Friday.

Via Canadian Press

Casey, Raptors Want DeRozan To Set Tone Defensively

DeMar DeRozan has all the tools to be a good defender, and Raptors coach Dwane Casey wants him to set a tone on that end.

“I think he wants to be a better defender, I think he is becoming a better defender,” Casey said. “That’s our challenge to him, to be a better defender, to guard the best two-guards in the league. That’s the most important thing, is picking it up on the defensive end. … He has the quick feet, quick hands, athletic ability to go up and contest shots. There is no reason he should not be able to be an elite defender.”

DeRozan has gotten the message—now, it is up to him to execute.

“Definitely, there is more of a passion on the defensive end,” DeRozan said. “We hear it from all of the coaching staff, really pushing us to be the type of team that leaves our mark on the defensive end. I think it is going to pay off in the end for us. He just has guys buying in on the defensive end, with the understanding that you can’t win games without the team executing defensive schemes. The more we buy into it, the more we get a chance to play and practice, we are going to get a lot better at it.”

Via Sean Deveney/Sporting News

Casey: Better Ball Distribution Will Improve Raptors From Last Season

The Raptors defeated Cleveland by a final score of 104-96 in their 11-12 regular season debut.

"Everybody who stepped on the floor contributed in some way or another," said new coach Dwane Casey. "I liked what I saw tonight, but this is a process. The good thing is we've got 65 more games to find out how far we can go."

Toronto assisted on 35 of its 42 field goals.

"I always say, 'Trust the pass,' and my guys did," Casey said. "They trusted each other, and found the open man."

Casey believes their ball distribution is what will separate this year's team from last year.

“That’s the difference from this year and last year, I thought,” Casey said. “No disrespect to last year but this is not a democracy offensively; we want to make sure we get the ball where we want it to go.

“It’s not a “my turn” game, it’s not a rec league game,” the coach added. “We want to make sure our offensive players who are our closers get the basketball and I thought Jose (Calderon) did an excellent job of doing that, getting the ball to DeMar and also Andrea at the right time in the right place.”

Via NBA.com

Mavericks Tender Offer To Fesenko; Raptors Trying To Clear Roster Spot

The Mavericks still have one roster spot open and are exploring the feasibility of filling it with Kyrylo Fesenko.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Saturday that the Mavericks, even after signing local high school product Sean Williams as a third center earlier this week, have extended a one-year offer to Fesenko.

Toronto, Golden State and Miami are also pursuing Fesenko.

Sources say that the Raptors, with a full 15 players on their roster, are exploring avenues to create an open spot for Fesenko, who turned 25 on Saturday.

Via Marc Stein/ESPNDallas.com

Casey, Raptors Emphasize Defensive Success Through Consecutive Stops

Raptors coach Dwane Casey measures his team’s defensive success in part by consecutive defensive stops, with three being the ideal number over the course of a game.

“When we do that, we’re doing pretty good defensively,” Casey said. “That’s our goal. We talk about that, we focus on that, and I was surprised and happy that we got that number (in the Raptors’ pre-season opener against Boston).”

The Raptors’ next aim is to hold opponents to less than 45 percent from the field while limiting attempts at the rim.

Casey understands the value in keeping track of opponent shot locations, contested long two-point field goal attempts, and layups allowed.

Via Toronto Star

Casey Hasn't Decided On Bayless Or Calderon Yet

Raptors coach Dwane Casey talked up Jerryd Bayless, who was tremendous in 14 starts for the Raptors last season (18.1 points, 6.7 assists, 46.7% shooting in 35.3 minutes per game) before adding that at this point, incumbent Jose Calderon is the likely starter.

“It’s going to be a good battle with he and Jose, we’re going to have to figure out who is the best for us coming off the bench, who is going to be our starter,” Casey said.

“(Bayless) does give us juice off the bench ... changing the game, pushing the basketball. If I was leaning one way, it would be that way right now, but I haven’t made my mind up 100%.”

Via Ryan Wolstat/Toronto Sun

Forbes Officially With Raptors After Nuggets Decline To Match

Gary Forbes is now a member of the Raptors.

After signing Forbes to an offer sheet, the Nuggets declined to match.

Forbes had a breakout season with Denver in 10-11 and received an endorsement from former and now current teammate Anthony Carter.

“He’d bring a lot of toughness, he can score, he can defend, he’s got a post presence,” Carter said.

“He’s never down, he comes in early and leaves late. It’s always good to have guys like that and I just hope Denver doesn’t match.

Via Canoe

Casey Sees Similarities Between Bargnani, Nowitzki

It is clear by now that Andrea Bargnani never will live up to the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons he has been saddled with. But Dwane Casey, the former Dallas assistant who knows the ins and outs of Nowitzki’s game like few others, still sees similarities and will run similar plays for Bargnani that Rick Carlisle drew up for Nowitzki.

“He’s one of the best shooters in the world and we want to make sure we utilize that,” said Casey.

“I know a lot of people don’t like that (Nowitzki) comparison, but I know how those sets turn out and how they work. We’ll have a lot of sets for him. Inside-outside, because he has that great skill-set.”

Casey said he will force Bargnani to improve offensively by doing things he has shied away from in the past.

“Andrea’s next step is accepting the contact inside. Initializing, (being a) physical, post up player and taking advantage of his size in the paint. We’re going to run a lot of sets for him to get the ball to him inside that’s what’s going to help keep the other teams off balance ... it’s going to help him as an all-around player because teams can’t key on (only his outside game).”

Via Ryan Wolstat/Toronto Sun

Reggie Evans In Talks With Raptors, Blazers, Celtics, Nets

Reggie Evans is receiving interest from the Raptors, Blazers, Celtics and Nets.

Evans is not yet close to a deal with any of the teams.

Evans has been with the Raptors since a 2009 trade sent him from Philadelphia.

Via Marc J. Spears/Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter)

Toronto Raptors Archives

Anthony Carter To Sign With Toronto

The Raptors will sign veteran point guard Anthony Carter.

Raptors Decide To Call Off Pietrus Trade

The Raptors medical staff determined that Mickael Pietrus needed two to four more weeks to be cleared for play.

Raptors Sign Aaron Gray

Aaron Gray agreed to a one-year deal with the Raptors.

Raptors To Sign Rasual Butler

Rasual Butler was waived by the Clippers in February and subsequently signed with the Bulls.

Dalembert Prefers Rockets But Warriors, Nuggets, Raptors Remain Possible

Samuel Dalembert confirmed that his top choice is to sign with the Rockets.

Raptors Nearing Multi-Year Deal With Gary Forbes

The Raptors are close to signing Gary Forbes to a two-year contract with a team option for a third season.

Raptors Acquire Mickael Pietrus From Suns

Mickael Pietrus is reportedly headed to the Raptors.

MLSE Close To $2 Billion Sale

The Raptors, along with the other holdings of MLSE, will be sold by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Stefanski Reminding Colangelo To Stay Course For 2012 Cap Space

The primary role of Ed Stefanski is to prevent Bryan Colangelo from deviating away from Toronto's plan of preserving cap space for 2012.

Stefanski Raves About Energy, Leadership Of Valanciunas

Ed Stefanski spent a large portion of his summer in Europe and saw more of Jonas Valanciunas than anyone else in the front office.

Source: Magloire To Sign With Raptors

Jamal Magloire would become the Raptors’ first Canadian-born player.

Celtics Reach Out To Reggie Evans

The Celtics have talked to the representative of Raptors free agent Reggie Evans.

Valanciunas Will Remain With Lietuvos Rytas This Season

Jonas Valanciunas will not be playing for the Raptors during the 11-12 NBA season.

Valanciunas Might Make NBA Debut This Season

Jonas Valanciunas is the most talented piece the salary cap-conscious Raptors could hope to add this summer.

Raptors Plan On Preserving Cap Space For 2012

At one point, the Raptors were believed to be interested in pursuing a free agent center.

Bargnani Agrees With Call For Improved Defense

Andrea Bargnani said that he supports new coach Dwayne Casey’s emphasis on defense.

Raptors Seeking Leadership, Rim Protection

Dwane Casey and Bryan Colangelo have bee in discussions for the types of players the Raptors need to improve their roster.

Casey Expects Valanciunas To Have Quick NBA Transition

Jonas Valanciunas is currently being coached by a former assistant of Dwane Casey.
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