Raptors going easy on vets Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry at training camp


QUEBEC CITY — The Toronto Raptors opened training camp at Laval University on Sunday, but the two most senior members of the team are still shaking off the cobwebs.

Marc Gasol (34) and Kyle Lowry (33) were both held out of contact drills on Sunday. Lowry is still recovering from surgery on his right thumb, while Gasol’s workload is being carefully managed after he led Spain to the 2019 FIBA World Cup title.

“Initially, we start off with holding him [Gasol] out for a while. It’s just a matter of making sure — he’s gotta do some stuff if he’s going to play the exhibitions in Tokyo, he’s gotta make sure he’s right and healthy and can withstand that so there’s a balance there — but I’m in no hurry to see him hit the floor, especially in any of our contact stuff right now,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.

“He’s such a hooper, he probably wishes he could be out there as much as he could,” he added.

Gasol played 79 regular season games split between Memphis and Toronto, followed by another 24 appearances in the Raptors’ championship run. Shortly thereafter, Gasol was assigned to training camp with the Spanish national team, who scheduled seven exhibition games including one in Las Vegas against the United States, followed by the tournament itself which featured eight contests set across various cities throughout China. The night after the gold medal game in Beijing, Gasol flew to Madrid for his second parade of the summer, before reporting to Media Day in Toronto less than two weeks later. Now he is in Quebec City for a week before the Raptors fly halfway around the world to Tokyo for two showcases against the Houston Rockets.

Nurse also hinted that Gasol’s workload would also be carefully managed at the outset of the regular season. Presumably, that means Gasol may be on a load management plan, although that was not officially announced.

In Lowry’s case, he is still recovering from surgery. Lowry did shoot around privately at training camp on Sunday, but by his own admission, he is a month away from where he would like to be. Lowry played through his thumb injury during the postseason — he was assured that he could not damage it any further and he kept his injured hand in a protective glove as much as possible — and finally underwent surgery in late-July. In some regards, the injury might have been a blessing in disguise as it kept Lowry from further taxing himself while playing for Team USA at the World Cup.

“He’s still coming out of his thumb injury rehab. He’ll be out of contact for a bit,” Nurse said of Lowry.

Aside from those two, the Raptors are mostly fresh. Serge Ibaka is the third-elder statesman on the team, but Nurse said Ibaka was “full guns blazing” and one of the standouts at practice. The only other concern is undrafted center Sagaba Konate, who sported a knee brace and was sidelined during the Las Vegas Summer League games.

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