Toronto Welcomes DeMarre Carroll & Cory Joseph
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
The team introduced Carroll and Joseph to media during a Thursday morning press conference at the Air Canada Centre where both players officially signed their contracts and sang the praises of the city and #WeTheNorth fan base.
Drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Toronto will be the sixth NBA team in as many years (not including a stint in the D-League in 2010) for Carroll. While he is excited about helping to build on what the team already has in place, it was how the franchise treated his family that made the decision to come to Toronto feel right almost immediately.
“Real to me is including my family,” Carroll said. “Whenever you include someone’s family, that’s pretty real. They came to my house and introduced themselves and had negations not only with myself, but with my family. I felt like that was a big part that sold me. Beyond this basketball, all you have is family. I feel like they took me in as their family.”
Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri expressed his excitement over being able to secure the player they had targeted in free agency.
“[This is] another special day for the Raptors family,” Ujiri said. “We want to welcome a player that we’ve always admired….A great human being we are bringing to our program and we feel very very privileged.”
The Raptors went to see Carroll shortly after free agency began, a gesture that allowed him to know he was their priority.
“It happened so quick,” Carroll said. “I had just got in from Aruba the night before. Teams wanted to meet with me 12 at night. I felt like I needed to get at least some kind of sleep. Toronto came in. We had a lengthy meeting. We kind of went back and forth. We got a deal done. Detroit was in the hotel waiting to have their meeting. I felt kind of bad to call those teams that I wasn’t going to visit. At the same time, it’s a business. I think the business of basketball is what’s best for the individual.”
The Carroll-to-Toronto fit is one that both sides feel is best for all involved. Carroll is looking forward to playing for a defensive-minded coach in Dwane Casey and the team is thrilled to have a proper lockdown perimeter defender on its roster.
During his session with the media, Carroll began with a lovely statement that showed how much Toronto’s faith in his game meant to him.
“First I want to start off by thanking Masai, thanking the organization, thanking my beautiful wife right here just for this opportunity,” Carroll said. “Throughout my life I’ve been through a lot. As many of y’all may have read, I’ve been through lot of obstacles throughout my life. From being shot in college to having a liver condition, for an organization to take me under their wing and bring me here and look at me as a true part of this team [it] means a lot.
“I don't take nothing for granted,” he continued. “Every time I step onto the court I play my hardest because this game is never promised to you. I lost my brother at an early age. I could go on on how many negatives have been in my life, but today, this is truly a positive. This is truly a positive to sit here before y’all and the city of Toronto and represent, put the city of Toronto across my chest, and go out and represent y’all. I’m going to do everything I can to try to help this team reach their goals and reach their achievements. Like I said before, I just want to thank every individual who is standing here who believed in me. Especially Masai, he’s seen me come from the bottom and make it to the top. I’m truly blessed and I would just like to say thank you.”
While Carroll is the most high-profile of the signings after a fantastic season with the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks — including a standout postseason series against the Washington Wizards where he was arguably Atlanta’s best player — Joseph marks just the second Canadian-born player to sign with the Raptors.Current basketball development consultant/community ambassador Jamaal Magloire played a season with the team before retiring.
Joseph was selected by the Spurs with the 29th overall pick in 2011 and has played in two NBA Finals in his four NBA seasons, including 2014 when the won the a championship.
“There’s no place like home,” Joseph said. “I’m just so excited to be home, to get to play in front of my family and friends for an organization like the Toronto Raptors. It’s literally a dream come true.”
Growing up in the Toronto area, the Pickering native was a Raptors fan. Ujiri has been familiar with Joseph’s game for a long time and was especially happy to bring him back to Toronto.
This is a special moment, I know for Cory, but I really feel, a special moment for us as an organization, us as a city, us as a country” Ujiri said. “It’s phenomenal….It’s a joy for me. I don’t know how to even explain it.”
Although the ink is now dry on the contract with his hometown team, Joseph is also unable to explain how it will feel to slip into a Raptors jersey.
“To be able to sit here and talk about it, I can’t wait to put my jersey on,” he said. “I thought it over in my head, I still don’t know how I’m going to feel when I put that jersey on and I go out and play that first game for the Toronto Raptors. It’s still kind of surreal to me. I gotta let it settle in a little bit.”