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Masai Ujiri at podium

Kyle Lowry’s Return Was No Surprise To Raptors GM Ujiri

There were some anxious moments as other teams attempted to pry Kyle Lowry away from the Raptors in hours after NBA free agency opened, however, it came as no surprise to President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri when he quickly came to an agreement with his point guard. Ujiri, Lowry and his agent Andy Miller had been holding discussions about Lowry’s future with the Raptors going back to the Rudy Gay trade. Open communication ensured everyone knew what was about to happen the instant Lowry could agree to a new deal.

The no-spin doctor Ujiri had laid it all out well before free agency opened up.

Masai Ujiri on free agent Kyle Lowry:


“I think one of the things we looked at when we made that (Rudy Gay) trade was how much we could grow if we went the other (blow it up) way,” Ujiri said. “There was communication with Kyle and his agent and we knew what we were going through during that process and the team began to play well and take off and we continued to have conversations with Kyle and then we all collectively decided that – you know what – this is something we want to see through and figure out.

“For me, negotiating is easy for me if we want Kyle to be here and Kyle wants to be here. Negotiating becomes tough when either party maybe does not want the player to be here or the player does not want to be here.

“I think that we will be fair with Kyle. We will figure it out. I think that it is important. He has grown as a person tremendously – to be coached or to work with – his teammates, everybody has said that and we are very proud of him.

“So we will go through that process, but we are optimistic.”

Before Lowry left at the end of the season, he had provided some pretty big clues of his own about his intentions. When you are about to be paid all the money one could want, being happy moves quickly up the depth chart of important factors.

I want to be happy, I want to win,” Lowry said at the end of season presser. “This culture around here is unbelievable from top to bottom. My job is not to build a team, my job is to play. Masai (Ujiri) will do a great job, I am sure of it and he will do the things it takes to get to the team to the next level.

I love this place. I love this situation. It is as simple as that.

Of course I can see myself back.”

It’s tough to take a GM at his word, but when it won’t get him in trouble, Ujiri hasn’t been the typical spin doctor. He says what he means.

In a little over a day, Lowry and the Raptors agreed on a 4-year $48 million deal. Ujiri’s confidence was well placed and Lowry’s back.


Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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“We have to map out a summer where our players get better – our young players get better,” Ujiri said. “As far as I am concerned, keeping our core group going forward with Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and (Patrick) Patterson and those guys are priorities for us. If you want to build a team where you have young players, we have to build on continuity.”