Raptors to run more with Marion, Banks
Shawn Marion's game doesn't exactly lend itself to a plodding, pedestrian halfcourt style.
So when the newest member of the Toronto Raptors sat down with interim head coach Jay Triano to talk about his role, Marion was happy to hear there would be more than a little running involved.
"The way coach basically explained it to me, we're going to get up and down the court a little bit more. It's going to be more fun to go out there and just play ball, basically," Marion said Tuesday at a media conference at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
"The game is supposed to be exciting. I'm tired of playing that boring style, halfcourt, just watching everybody go up and run a play, call this play, run this play.
"That's boring, I'm not going to lie to you. I know fans don't enjoy it, either."
The Raptors officially introduced Marion and Marcus Banks at the ACC on the heels of Friday's trade with the Miami Heat that brought the two to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon and a conditional draft pick.
Speed will be a theme for the Raptors in their push for a spot in the NBA playoffs.
Entering Tuesday's action, the Raptors are 14th in the Eastern Conference, five games out of a spot in the post-season.
They won their last two games before the NBA all-star break to improve to 21-34, but time is running out.
"Twenty-seven games to go, you let it all out there," Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo said. "We've got to do everything we can to make this thing come together as quickly as possible.
"It's got to come together fast. We'll do what we can to make it work."
Marion was a four-time all-star as part of the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns, and has averaged 17.9 points and 10.0 rebounds over 10 seasons with Phoenix and Miami.
He and Banks were traded to the Heat last February, but Marion's role diminished in the shadow of Dwyane Wade in Miami, where he averaged just 12.0 points and 8.7 rebounds this season.
"Everything was predicated on the halfcourt in Miami — which I can play — but everything was predicated on D. Wade, which there's nothing wrong with, he's a hell of a player," Marion said. "And we were winning and stuff, but I wasn't as effective as I could be."
Marion will line up alongside former U.S. national squad teammate Chris Bosh, along with emerging forward Andrea Bargnani in what could be a potent frontcourt.
"I know what [Bosh] is capable of and I'm usually on the other end guarding him," Marion said. "Now I get to play on the side with him.
"He's definitely a talented player. I think we can complement one another, especially with [Jose] Calderon at the point guard position, who's a very good distributor."
Bosh said while he doesn't like to see players leave the team, he's excited about teaming up with Marion.
"Just the way he runs the floor and the way he rebounds, I think he can really help us," Bosh said. "And he makes decisions very quickly.
"He's a vet, he's been playing for a long time, he knows how to defend the right way. He works hard on both ends and he's kind of one of those guys you don't think about, but are very effective."
Contract expires July 1
Marion, whose versatility earned him the nickname "Matrix," can play at either small forward or power forward.
The 30-year-old insisted he's not worried about exactly how and where he'll fit in to Toronto's lineup.
"I think I'm a basketball player first. When you look at me, I want you to look at me as a basketball player, don't label me at a position. I'm able to guard one through five, easily," Marion said. "I'm able to make people around me better because I know the game, and I feel that when you make people around you look good, you look even better."
Last week's trade gave the Raptors a little more financial flexibility heading into this off-season. Marion's contract, which will pay him $17 million US this season, expires July 1.
But Marion preferred not to think of himself as a player on rental just to the end of the season.
"Me and Bryan, we talked about that, but you know what? At the end of the day he told me that we made this decision to make this team better coming in," Marion said. "I'm here for hopefully the long haul, not just for a rental.… But I'm going to compete right now with a Toronto Raptors jersey on, that's what it's about."
Marion makes his Raptors debut on Wednesday against LeBron James and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bosh and Calderon might play
Calderon, who's been plagued by a sore hamstring that kept him out of 10 games in January, is expected to play.
Bosh sat out four straight games heading into the all-star break and then didn't play on the Eastern Conference team in Phoenix, opting to rest his sprained right knee.
"There's an outside chance I'll play [Wednesday]," Bosh said after Tuesday's practice.
"My knee feels a lot better. Having the weekend off helped a lot."
Banks, meanwhile, has averaged 6.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 317 games with the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Suns and Heat.
"I think I'm going to be able to provide some toughness," said the guard, who will battle for minutes on a roster crowded with backcourt players.
"I'm not going to back down to anyone, especially point guards. I feel like I can come out and put some pressure on them, make guards guard me on the other end, too."