Former Spurs guard Cory Joseph had a sense that the course of his career was about to change dramatically in San Antonio. Now with Toronto, he is flourishing.
Like others, he heard the news that San Antonio would be pushing to land LaMarcus Aldridge from Portland in free agency. Joseph had been in San Antonio for four years. He was preparing for his restricted free agency. The Spurs, who already had more than enough guards on their roster, including backup point guard Patty Mills, renounced their right to Joseph, making him an unrestricted free agent.
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For any player, not knowing what is next in their career weighs on you. Joseph knew once it was almost clear the Spurs were going to land Aldridge, his time in San Antonio was done.
“I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but it was not hard to figure it out,” Joseph said. “Once they were going to have the possibility of getting LaMarcus, I knew I was going to be a free agent. I didn’t know where I was going to go right away. At the time, I was thinking I would see my options and see what would be best for me.”
San Antonio’s loss would become the Raptors’ gain. In Game 3 of the Raptors’ East finals on Saturday, Joseph helped keep Toronto afloat when starter Kyle Lowry landed in early foul trouble, scoring 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting off the bench as the Raptors brought the series to 2-1.
Once it became clear that Joseph would be a free agent, the Raptors targeted him, figuring he had been underutilized in San Antonio.
When Joseph left San Antonio, he did so without bitterness. His time in San Antonio was important, he said, because he learned from one of the great all-time sixth men, Manu Ginobili.
“I learned a lot from Manu (Ginobili),” Joseph said. “He took over that sixth-man role over there with the Spurs, so I learned a lot from him coming off the bench, what type of mentality you have to have, what type of leadership you have to show so that when you go in, there is no letdown from the first group to the second group. That’s what I am trying to bring here, getting better every day.”
Joseph is a native of Toronto. Seeing him perform well for the Raptors is great. They probably were counted out before their series with the Cavaliers started, but now see themselves tied at two games apiece.