James Johnson says his issues with Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey are a thing of the past.
Johnson and guard Greivis Vasquez both met with the media Tuesday after signing two-year deals with the club. While Vasquez was largely expected to return, brining Johnson back into the fold is somewhat of a surprise.
'We had our bumps, but that's war. It's a war out there when we're playing a game and sometimes you say stuff that you regret or you say stuff that you don't really mean.' - Raptors' James Johnson on past relationship with coach Dwane Casey
Johnson, who spent parts of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons with the Raptors, had issues seeing eye-to-eye with Casey. The forward averaged 9.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists in 25 games under Jay Triano following a trade from Chicago during the 2010-11 season.
However, in 2011-12, Casey's first season at the helm of the Raptors, the two had trouble getting on the same page, which eventually led to Johnson being benched by the Raptors coach.
"It never was bad, we had our bumps, but that's war," Johnson said. "It's a war out there when we're playing a game and sometimes you say stuff that you regret or you say stuff that you don't really mean.
"Dwane Casey is a great guy and I feel like he realizes that and we've moved forward from where we were at. We had a great conversation and I'm just ready to win and I know he is."
Johnson returns to the Raptors following stints in Sacramento and Memphis. The 27-year-old Wyoming native averaged 7.4 and 3.2 assists while with the Grizzlies last season.
His new two-year deal will reportedly pay him $5 million US.
"It was a crazy road for me, but you learn a lot throughout your mistakes," he said. "I felt like Masai [Ujiri] and the rest of the Toronto Raptors they felt the same way about the situation and feel the same way about my play and what I could bring to the team.
"I still have a lot to prove, but [the Raptors] signing me for two years gives me a boost of confidence and I'm going to work my hardest to help us go further than we did last year.
Size, defensive depth
At six-foot-nine and 250 pounds, the small forward gives the Raptors size and defensive depth.
"I'm just more mature about my game," Johnson said. "I'm just doing the little things, finding my niche nowadays and getting an opportunity to score when I can, if not, don't worry about the offensive game."
Vasquez, 27, returns to Toronto for two more years at a reported $13 million, a significant raise from the $2.1 million he made in 2013-14.
After being acquired from Sacramento in December 2013, Vasquez averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists in 61 games with the Raptors.
"There were a couple other teams that were trying to get me," admitted the six-foot-six, 200-pound Vasquez. "I had some phone calls that I thought I was never going to get.
"My heart is here so it was going to be hard for me to go somewhere else. Whether I come off the bench, whether I'm a starting point guard, it doesn't really matter. It's about being happy, it's about winning, it's about building a legacy."
Vasquez was a big part of last year's 48-win season and gives Casey a key bench component.
"Management is doing a great job the guys together and bringing in guys that are going to help, Vasquez said I never doubt Masai. Masai is a big-time GM. He knows what he's doing. I don't think he is afraid at all. He's a pretty honest guy who tells you things how it is."