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Kyle Lowry promises not to get too emotional when DeRozan and Casey return to Toronto

The Raptors star opens up about the big changes, adding Kawhi and more

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — His best friend, DeMar DeRozan, is gone. His coach, Dwane Casey, is gone too. Yet Kyle Lowry is still with the Toronto Raptors, finding some solace in new teammate and fellow All-Star Kawhi Leonard.

Emotional reunions are expected, starting with Casey’s first return to Toronto next week and DeRozan’s arrival later in the season.

“I still haven’t reflected,” Lowry told The Undefeated after a 114-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. “I’m not looking forward to seeing Coach next week. It’s weird.

“Then seeing DeMar is going to be different. It’s going to be weird. And I’m sure they are going to show a video tribute, and I might get emotional. I won’t cry. I won’t do that. We have always talked about it by saying that we’re going to reflect on our careers when we are done and sitting on our porches chilling sipping on some lemonade.”

It’s a new day in Toronto after DeRozan, the Raptors’ all-time leading scorer, was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Casey, the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year, is now with the Detroit Pistons as head coach after being fired. Despite their departures, Lowry and Leonard have led the Raptors to a league-best 11-1 start. Lowry has opened the season playing like an MVP candidate, averaging 17.8 points and a league-leading 11.3 assists as well as 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

“I’m fueled by everything,” Lowry said. “It’s not even bad fuel. It’s good fuel. I try to think as positive as possible. Everything happens for a reason. You can’t get mad about things you can’t control. All you can control is yourself.

“I have two kids. Two young boys who always look up to me. And they can look back. They can YouTube me, read articles on me. I don’t want anyone to ever read something about me that says I was harmful. I just want to be the greatest dad in the world.”

Here’s more from my conversation with Lowry, who has not said much previously about the offseason changes in Toronto:

There seems to be a lot of concern about how you’re holding up after the trade. So, how are you?

That’s the craziest thing in the world. It’s a Catch-22 for me. If I’m quiet, then I’m mad. If I’m loud, I’m too much. I’m always good. You know why? I got two babies at home that love me to death. Karter and Kam, they can’t wait to see me tomorrow.

What was your relationship like with Casey? (Casey and the Pistons visit Toronto on Nov. 14.)

It was an up-and-down one. But he was like the nicest man in the world. I learned to respect what he did, how he came up and his approach to everything. He landed right back on his feet. So I’m happy for him.

Former teammates DeMar DeRozan (left) and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors high-five during a game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Why do you still do your old DeRozan handshake before games without him around?

It’s routine. It’s tradition. It’s something that has been keeping me going. It’s good. Why not? We’ve been doing the same for a long time. I’ve been knocking on wood for a long time. I’m superstitious. I’ve been healthy. I’ve been playing with good luck for the last couple years, so I want to keep it going. It’s not for anything else. It’s just for me.

How do you feel about the way DeRozan is playing with the San Antonio Spurs, where he’s averaging 26.4 points, 6.8 assists and 6.4 rebounds?

Unbelievable. I push him even more because he is not on my team. I can push him to be a better player every single night because I can watch from afar. I can tell him what he is doing, what I see and help him even more because I’m not on the floor with him. I can see with the naked eye, ‘You can do this.’

When I play against him, I am going to try to take his head off. That is the relationship that the game brings.

When Casey and DeRozan return, how should the Raptors crowd respond?

Standing ovation. They have done a lot for the city and the organization. Welcome them with open arms, which I’m sure Toronto fans will do. I have no doubt about that.

Was a concern about saying the wrong thing the main reason you didn’t talk in detail about the Raptors’ changes during the July minicamp for USA Basketball?

I’ve never talked in the summer. I don’t Instagram none of my workouts. I don’t do interviews in the summer. I never do it. The last time I talked [to the media] in the summer was when I got traded from Houston. …

The only reason people saw me this summer was because of USA. But know that I do this every year. I go into my world. And my world is my family and my friends. It’s a grind mode. It’s a grind world.

So your decision not to talk had nothing to do with the changes the Raptors made?

Everyone is going to make a story out of that one. When it happens, you are always a little emotional. But as a player, as an older man, you’re going to be all right. Don’t react right away. And that is what I didn’t do. My best friend in the world [DeRozan] got traded. He was upset. Things were hectic.

For me, I’m going to support him and I have his back. But I understand it’s a business, and everyone made peace with it. And everyone continued to do great things.

How long did it take you to make peace with the changes?

It took a little bit. But I had to make peace with it right away, because it’s a business. If you take it personal, you’re going to [expletive] yourself. You can’t do that in this business. I never held on to it.

Now that the dust has settled, what do you think about the changes?

Our record is good. We’re playing well. For me, it’s long-, long-term. Stay level [headed]. You can’t worry about this and that. You got to make sure that when the time comes, April, May, June, that we are still playing. That’s when you get asked about what the team is and what this year is.

Right now, we’re just 12 games in. It’s too early to tell. We got to just stay the path.

Did you still want to be in Toronto?

That’s a good question. I just wanted to be where I could win and I was wanted. And it was here. They didn’t trade me, so I guess this was the situation I was going to be in. And as a professional with the situation I am going to be in, I’m going to do my job.

What has it been like playing with Kawhi?

He’s a great player. He’s still getting his feet under him. I still believe he has some work to do. Like today, he was a little off a little bit. But he’s doing his job and he is going to continue to get better.

Would you agree that you are playing with a vengeance, a little extra something?

At the end of the day, I still love this game. Nothing is going to p— me off. It’s a business. Everyone will think, ‘Oh, he’s mad.’ Listen, I do what I do every summer. I continue to be the best player I can be. I come back and work. It’s not a vengeance. If it was a vengeance, I’d be averaging 25 and I’d be shooting every time.

It’s about having the opportunity to continue to grow. Show the maturity as one of the veteran players, winning games and doing it at a high level. People say, ‘You’re getting older.’ I might be getting older, but the older players still know how to play the game. Don’t throw us into the trash yet.

The big difference for me is I’m shooting the ball further. I am not shooting the ball really well right now to my standards. But that’s how it goes. You have your ups and downs. But I will be at 40 percent for the year.

What are your thoughts on some reporters comparing your play to Steve Nash when he won his MVP awards?

Don’t do that. That man is a Hall of Famer. Listen, Steve is Steve. If I get to that level, I will talk about it then. Right now, I just go out there and do my job.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.