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Masai Ujiri at podium

Raptors GM Ujiri Still Open To Trades

At this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri hasn’t stopped trying to improve his team.  He’s said all along that this season was all about seeing what he had and developing his young guys.  The players themselves would dictate the direction he took as the season moved along as he recently confirmed to Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun once again.

“I always said since I came in, the players will dictate where we go and the team will dictate where we go and that’s kind of how it’s been,” Ujiri said.

The Raptors have improved as a result of Ujiri’s two big trades thus far.  Sending Bargnani to the Knicks created salary cap space for some minor off season free agent signings, brought in veteran three-point shooter Steve Novak and some draft picks.  Sending Rudy Gay to Sacramento gave Head Coach Dwane Casey a solid bench and created some elusive team chemistry that is hard to measure, but is obvious when it’s missing.  However, Ujiri acknowledges that he isn’t done making moves just yet.

“I think we always want to get better, we want to continue to grow,” Ujiri said.   “We have plenty of work to do.”

He will be keeping his cell phone on through the trade deadline and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if some of those calls are initiated by him.

“I’ll be right here (waving his cellphone) waiting and we’ll see what happens,” Ujiri said. “I never know what to expect. Sometimes it’s quiet until the last minute. Sometimes it’s busy.”

The Raptors are a tight-lipped organization that doesn’t leak what they are about to do until it suits their purposes.  That kind of responsible management leads to all kinds of speculation and attempts to get inside the head of Ujiri, who may have been the best general manager in the NBA at winning trades – by luck or superior evaluation – over the past few years.

As the team has been playing well, some of the pressure – if Ujiri ever really felt any pressure – to do a deal isn’t there, so the focus easily remains on getting better for the longer term.  However, it seems the ‘sometimes it’s quiet until the last minute. Sometimes it’s busy’ sums up exactly what to expect from the Raptors over the next few days.  There is still the potential for things to get really interesting in Toronto.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen 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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