Goran Dragic didn't even think about keeping his old No. 7. The moment the Toronto Raptors finalized the sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry this past summer, the veteran guard knew he was going to have to switch things up this season.
"I've been in this league for quite a while and I know that Kyle, he brought a championship to this organization," Dragic said at Raptors media day Monday. "So I do believe that probably his jersey is going to be in the rafters."
Dragic is right. Earlier this summer both Masai Ujiri and MLSE chairman Larry Tannenbaum said Lowry's No. 7 would be the first retired by the organization. So instead of creating a controversy, Dragic decided to go back to his roots and dawn No. 1 this season, the number he wore during his second stint with the Phoenix Suns when he had two of his most successful years.
Lowry, however, wasn't so willing to just give up No. 7. Instead, the former Raptor gave Dragic a call and asked if he could dawn the number with Miami. Dragic, who said he's been good friends with Lowry since their days together in Houston, obliged.
"It was nothing. He asked me for the number I said, 'Yeah, no problem, you’re my guy,'" Dragic said. "You know he won a championship and everything so he deserved it. So I'm happy that he can wear number seven in Miami."
Dragic Working to Mend Relationship With Fans
While Dragic's Raptors tenure may have started out on rocky footing due to some misinterpreted remarks he made about not wanting to play in Toronto, he's done a lot of work to mend the relationship. He again apologized for his remarks and said the organization has been very welcoming to him so far.
"I'm a professional, playing this league for 14 years, so I love basketball, I'm gonna do everything that it takes to, to be part of this team and to help young, young, young players to grow," he said. "I think that's the most important thing, at this time for me in my career, to help young players to, you know, to overcome all the difficulties that they're going to have during the season and to be there for them."
Lessons from Steve Nash
Dragic credited Brooklyn Nets coach and former Suns teammate Steve Nash for helping to mentor him during his first few seasons in the league. He said playing with Nash taught him out to speak up during tough moments and be a leader for younger players, something he wants to bring to Toronto.
Expectations from Precious
If Dragic is right, Precious Achiuwa is going to be a joy to watch this season.
"He’s going to bring a lot of high energy," Dragic said. "He’s the guy who's gonna run the floor, play defense, block shots, you know, he is great on the open court."
That's exactly what the Raptors are looking for these days. They want versatile bigs who can grab rebounds and kickstart the fastbreak. It might not always be pretty for the sophomore center, but Dragic said he's seen a lot of growth already and there should be plenty more surprises coming this season.
Meeting Scottie Barnes
"Scotty, I mean, he's hilarious," Dragic said. "He's so funny. Good kid."