Has anyone in Toronto ever seen the Raptors president Masai Ujiri sweat? Well after returning from Africa this morning and immediately heading down to Scotiabank Arena for a press conference about the big move that sent fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, the usually steadfast Ujiri was sweating the details in front of the media.
This wasn’t the first time Ujiri has sent someone he knows well and respects packing, but this time it took a toll. From the apologies to the explanations to admitting maybe he misled DeRozan unintentionally, Ujiri has never bobbed-and-weaved so much in front of the media in Toronto and maybe ever.
“When I met with (DeRozan’s agent) at Summer League maybe my mistake was saying there was nothing imminent at the time. At the time we were fourth on the ranks of trying to get anything done and I didn’t see anywhere the talks were going,” Ujiri explained.
“It’s my job to go to these guys and talk about our team as it is. That’s my job every year.”
Understandably it’d be hard to tell a star player his name had come up in trade talks. Especially if you believed those talks weren’t going anywhere, but as Ujiri later admitted, the he believed Raptors as constructed would be stuck in the same spot they’d been for a while now and that wasn’t good enough anymore.
Ujiri should be sweating over this move. Leonard wasn’t at this press conference that was in essence about him and the best Ujiri could say was his new star would be here “soon” and based on the reporting rules for traded players, soon should have been “today.”
The Raptors got the best player in this trade and added a badly needed veteran wing player in Danny Green, the team got better on paper – a lot better, but Ujiri was still sweating.
Maybe everyone in Toronto should be sweating until Ujiri can put Leonard in front of the media for a photo shoot in his new jersey.