Chris Boucher on free agency, Nick Nurse and loving the Raptors
Raptors forward Chris Boucher discusses what he learned about playoff basketball as a rotation player, how Nick Nurse has helped his game develop, what the Raptors organization means to him and free agency.
- Chris, I know it's not the ending that you wanted per se from a collective standpoint. But individually did you could see the work that you put in yesterday as that to be the ending of your season of growth, or what [INAUDIBLE]?
CHRIS BOUCHER: I mean, it's really hard right now. We just lost and stuff, but I think there's a lot of positive that we could take from this season. And obviously it's going to take a couple of days and stuff, but I think just in general, and as a team, and everything that we did this year with COVID injuries and all, I think we did a really good job just to stand together. And we got that far, so. Playoff experience and everything. So I think it's going to be-- it's going to be a good summer, when we think about it. And hopefully we can grow from that.
- So is it pride for yourself personally in the highs and lows [INAUDIBLE]?
CHRIS BOUCHER: No. I think I needed this, just to be a better player. Just realized the moment a lot more and stuff. I feel like when everything was better to begin, I was really hard on myself. And it made me realize to enjoy the good times. And when we actually, you know, figuring out what kind of player I wanted and the stuff that I was really good at. And I think that really helped me out. So I wouldn't take anything back from this season.
- Random question. Anyone ever get you in touch with Dennis Rodman?
CHRIS BOUCHER: No.
- We gotta get this done.
CHRIS BOUCHER: Yeah, probably. I mean, yeah. I really watch a lot of him, so. Make it happen.
- Chris, you're going into free agency. And what are your thoughts about that? And what are some of your priorities? Is returning to this organization?
CHRIS BOUCHER: I haven't thought about it, honestly. To be honest with you, this season was, I mean, it's hard to play all season and think about it. It can affect your game. And also, I think about it more in the next few days, but, you know. Like, I said, I think I did a good job just to put myself, and my family, and everybody that worked and helped me out to get to this point. I think we're in a good position for ourselves. And just making sure that we do the right decision for all of us. Because, like I said, I'm not alone in this. And like I said, I love Toronto. Toronto did a lot for me. From the little young player I came here, I didn't know much, to who I am now. I owe it all to Toronto.
- How important is it to you to be a key contributor on a contending team?
CHRIS BOUCHER: I mean, obviously, it makes my-- shows me how far I've came. And honestly, I never thought I'd be here, like, playing on a playoff team. And be a contributor. So it's definitely something that I'm thinking about it. And I say how fun it is to be in a playoff, and play for something, and like I said. I've seen how it was to be in Tampa too. And not winning and, you know, obviously I'd rather win more games and go to the playoffs and be a contributor than having the best season on the team and lose. And keep losing, so.
- Chris, when you speak to young players around the NBA, or Canadian players around the NBA, have you noticed a difference at all in the way that they do the rafters? Say, just as a franchise, or even as a free agency destination?
CHRIS BOUCHER: Yeah. I mean, they just see what happens with the players. With that-- they really don't have a name, or they come to the league and they-- you don't really know much about them. But it seems like every time that you go with Toronto your game gets better. You somehow, some way, find a way to get meaningful minutes in meaningful games. So, I think that's something that the Raptors always do.
And, like I said, they know the core. When you look at Pascal OG, before Delon, Norman, Fred, it's all guys that was in the G League. And I think that shows that they take the players-- the players get better. It really helps them with that. And I think that's a team that you want to be on.
Any time, if you feel like you're not going to play, and they send you to the G League, you know that it's for you to get better. And, obviously, they're going to use you if they need you. And you can see that with Champagnie. He helps a lot this year. He was on a two-way. Bonga had minutes. And it goes all the way down to the line. So I think that's something that any free agents would want to be in.
- Chris, early in the season Kevin talked about how he felt like last year at times he had to change his game, because he was coming into a contract year. Did you feel pressure, or was that on your mind at all, earlier in the season? Do you feel like you had to-- you were changing things up because of how the summer is going to go?
CHRIS BOUCHER: I mean, I definitely came into the season with a different mindset. Obviously I thought that with my-- the injury that I have, and all that, I didn't expect that to impact me that much. So, I went over there and thought that I was going to bring all offense and all. Because that's what I did in Tampa. But I think what really helped me out is the fact that I came in like that, because I had to change my whole mindset.
And I wasn't-- the fact that I was a free agent too. I wasn't going to go anywhere if I was kept playing the way I was playing, so. That definitely helped me out. Obviously I wanted to get to this position one day. And be able to say that I had a great season, and have options, and be able to just be satisfied with my game. Because obviously I didn't really enjoy doing hustle plays until I realized-- until I realized that that's where I was. And that's something that I could grow from now, and bring it every time.
- What has Nick Nurse meant to your development?
CHRIS BOUCHER: He changed-- I mean, to be honest with you, it was just realizing what the NBA and how it is to be a professional. And always be ready in defensive schemes and all. Like, I didn't-- my first couple of years, I didn't really have the chance to understand that until this year. And I think Coach really helped me out with that. Just because, I mean, he on and on repeating me the mistakes that I was making. And making sure that I was going to get better at it. And he gave me opportunities to fix it. And that's something that you don't get in every organization. Not every coach would give you that chance. And, you know, I'm really grateful for that.
- Chris, Pascal was asked if there was anyone that he learned from. And he said that he was proud of you and learned from your resiliency. What does that mean to you to hear that?
CHRIS BOUCHER: That means a lot. I mean, obviously, Pascal, you know, he's the one that did the most growth, to be honest with you. Just as a player, as somebody that could be so much. So positive after everything that happened to him and all. It's really hard to be a go to guy, come every night, and having ups and downs. And still be positive with your teammates and all.
So, no. But he really helped me out just to stay focused and knowing what to bring to the team. And that's something that I don't think I would have been able to do without these guys. Like I said, Fred, OG, just guys that kept telling me to-- that they knew what I was able to do. And they kept me in line. And when it was hard, they always told me that I was going to turn around. And that always helps. Like I said, those guys, they've seen it all, so. Definitely feels good to hear that from Pascal, for sure.
- Go ahead, Francois.
- Chris, [SPEAKING FRENCH]
CHRIS BOUCHER: [SPEAKING FRENCH]
So it's almost like your ideal place.
- [SPEAKING FRENCH]
CHRIS BOUCHER: Well, I mean-- [SPEAKING FRENCH]