Raptors' new point guard Greivis Vasquez sees Toronto as a fresh start | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Raptors' new point guard Greivis Vasquez sees Toronto as a fresh start

December 12, 2013 - 2:38 PM

TORONTO - Greivis Vasquez couldn't help but be excited when he watched his new Raptors team beat the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend.

It wasn't so much about the win, but about the way that Toronto played — especially the pick-and-roll play of forwards Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas.

"The first eight plays were pick and rolls. I was like 'Yes, this is heaven for me," Vasquez said. "It's going to be fun, but I don't want to say much, I just want to do it on the court."

Vasquez participated in his first practice in Toronto on Thursday since Monday's trade that sent Rudy Gay, plus Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to Sacramento. The Venezuelan guard had been delayed a couple of days in New York due to visa red tape, "filing paperwork after paperwork."

No sooner did the point guard arrive in Toronto than trade rumours involving Kyle Lowry started swirling, with reports claiming the New York Knicks were interested in dealing Raymond Felton for the Raptors' starting point guard.

Vasquez, who arrived in the deal with John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson — a foursome Vasquez referred to as the "heart of Sacramento" — sees the move as a fresh start.

"I feel like when you get traded, that team really wants something from you, and I think when they traded for me, they felt I was going to be able to help this team, and I'm very loyal to that," he said. "Maybe it's my culture, maybe it's where I'm coming from, but I'm all about Toronto Raptors now.

"I just want to play, I just want to be happy, I want to feel like I'm enjoying what I'm doing, and this opportunity is probably going to get that back for me because I was struggling in Sacramento."

The six-foot-six, 211-pound guard, runner-up last season for the NBA's most improved player, had off-season ankle surgery, and said he had a "really rough" training camp because of it.

But he's known as a decent ball distributor, which should help a team that has been woefully short on assists. The Caracas native has averaged 9.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 25.8 minutes in 18 games with the Kings this season.

All four are expected to play Friday when the Raptors (7-13) host the Philadelphia 76ers (7-16).

Raptors coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of his new point guard, saying he gives the team another strong ball-handler.

"We should have multiple pick and rolls, we run quite as few as it is but we should have even more now with different people, now (opposing teams) can't key in on Kyle being the only guy really efficient in running the pick and roll," Casey said.

The 26-year-old Vasquez was asked about how he feels playing for a team in transition.

"A lot of people talk about tanking and all that," Vasquez said. "I know players, I'm not going to go out there and just give the ball away. . .'hey score.' I want to go out there and compete, at the end of the day whether you win or lose, you want to feel like you gave everything."

With four new players in town, and three having departed, Casey said it felt like he was back in training camp again.

"We went back to basics, mainly terminology," the coach said. "These guys have seen a lot basketball-wise, but just the terminology is different. Just getting them acclimated to our terminology, and that way they can pick up things on the fly."

Vasquez played with Memphis and New Orleans prior to joining the Kings. In 232 career games (123 starts), he has averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 24.6 minutes.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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