Toronto Raptors’ Masai Ujiri dismisses DeMarre Carroll’s “trust” comments

President Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
President Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri didn’t necessarily “fire back” when discussing DeMarre Carroll‘s trust comments, but what he did say perhaps hinted at what was a rocky relationship between the two sides.

After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this month, DeMarre Carroll was blunt with his comments about the Toronto Raptors when speaking to the Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat.

The veteran forward touched on a number of topics, including how the team played “ISO” basketball instead of a “team oriented” style, how the team relies heavily on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and how there was a lack of trust on the team.

Understandably, the Raptors organization was not happy with Carroll’s comments and felt that the locker room issues he mentioned were overstated, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. Up until Tuesday afternoon, the team was quiet and did not respond to Carroll’s comment. But team president Masai Ujiri finally spoke about Carroll’s comments during his appearance on TSN 1050’s OverDrive on Tuesday. Here’s what Ujiri had to say:

"“Maybe there wasn’t more trust on him. I feel that, just like I said in my press conference, in a working place you’re going to have ups and downs. It doesn’t matter where you go. Where he’s gone to Brooklyn they will have experience that. Where he was in Atlanta, I’m sure he experienced that. If not, why did he leave? There are so many things that come up in working situations and where we are and you have to weather through them.The year before last year we had a successful season and DeMarre only played 42 games and we went to the Conference Finals. So we can pinpoint different things. The year we went to the Eastern Conference Finals, it doesn’t mean that we did not have ups and downs and there were no difficult times. That’s the nature of the NBA. Everyday you’re seeing the same players, same people, same everything. You’re trying to do things on the court and perform.Honestly, I take it with a grain of salt. I don’t know that we were not good to him. I think the organization was really good to DeMarre, and those issues that you have inside, honestly, as a general manager of the team, I don’t see any major issues that I can pinpoint.Yes, we need to think about some of the things we don’t do very well, but I don’t think there are any issues here that are detrimental to the team.”"

Ujiri was then asked if this was the classic “player pointing a finger on the way out of situation that didn’t work” scenario. Here’s what he had to say:

"“I know what you’re trying to say but I’m going to reserve my comments on that. The best way I can put it is that the expectations were on both sides. Did he meet ours? It’s questionable. Did we meet his? It’s questionable.And I say sometimes the best way to do this is be happy with your next environment and go try to make it work, and be thankful for the one you just left. That’s how I would approach it.”"

Ujiri’s honest assessment of the situation was loaded with great stuff and you can listen to the full interview here. When you read — or listen — to what Ujiri said, though, it’s hard not to think that the relationship between Carroll and the Raptors deteriorated over time and it was rocky at best.

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From Carroll’s perspective, his comments about the Raptors playing style aren’t wrong, but he wasn’t exactly playing great basketball either. Again, I understand the system wasn’t a great fit for his style of play, but I think it’s fair to say the Raptors expected him to adapt. I mean, you don’t just sign a player to a four-year, $60 million deal if you don’t think he’s a good fit.

Aside from the financial aspect of his deal, the Raptors were more than patient with Carroll and not only stuck with him during his numerous injuries, but also continuously inserted him in the starting lineup when he was healthy, despite having better options on the bench in Norman Powell and P.J. Tucker. So far all the criticism Carroll has about the Raptors, he can’t say the team didn’t provide him with a long leash to perform.

From an objective standpoint, the comments from both Ujiri and Carroll show that there was disconnect between the two sides and you could argue both parties failed each other. However, when you consider the generous contract the Raptors gave Carroll, there’s no arguing against Ujiri when he said Carroll should essentially move on and be thankful for what the Raptors did for him.

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For what it’s worth, Carroll had nothing but praise for Ujiri and the Raptors when he spoke with the New York media on Tuesday, so it sounds like any lingering animosity between the Raptors and Carroll has been put to rest.