Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri teases potential surprise signing

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) /

The recent flurry of news and activity involving the Toronto Raptors may not be quite finished yet, as Masai Ujiri hints at a post-trade deadline surprise.

It’s been an interesting few days for the Toronto Raptors. They moved up to 12th place in Forbes’ annual NBA franchise valuations, the Bruno Caoclo era is finally over and there are rumors Vince Carter could return to Southern Ontario.

To top it all off, the Boston Celtics lost on Friday night, meaning Toronto is now in first place in the East. For what it’s worth, this is the latest into the regular season the Raptors have ever held top spot in their conference.

Have you caught your breath? Good, because the recent flurry of news and speculation doesn’t appear to be quite over yet, at least not according to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

With the trade deadline out of the way, attention now turns to the buyout market and players looking to get out of the remaining term of their contract. As Sportsnet‘s Michael Grange notes, players have until Mar. 1 to do this, if they wish to be eligible for the playoff roster on another team.

In this respect, Ujiri has teased at the possibility of the Raptors making a surprise signing. As reported by Grange, he said:

"“We made a list (Thursday), but I can’t tell you. I’m not allowed to mention names anyways, but it’s open. I think there are going to be a couple of surprises. You never know and there are a couple of obvious names that are out there. We’ll see. We’ll continue to discuss with our coaches and we’ll see what we need.”"

Understandably, Ujiri is not in a position to divulge further information. However, thoughts immediately turn to who the Raptors are potentially targeting.

We’ve already mentioned Carter (although I’ll admit I have my reservations about going down this path). Other possibilities include Channing Frye, Marco Belinelli and Joe Johnson.

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Of course, it’s all just conjecture at this point, with Ujiri admitting he will also consider players in Europe. But what we are confident about, is the Raptors want to bring a veteran in with playoff experience, as they aim to go deeper than ever in the postseason.

The Raptors changed their philosophy after being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round last season. As a result, they are placed to have their best regular season yet in franchise history.

What’s refreshing is Ujiri and the team never rest on their laurels and are always looking for ways to improve, which is in keeping with a league always humming with activity. As per Grange, the Raptors president said:

"“This is the NBA and the reality of the NBA is we are built around chaos and drama. We deal with it every day and more drama is coming.”"

The Raptors weren’t really a major part of the spectacle and theater of the trade deadline. Regardless, they still have the chance to create some (positive) drama of their own, between now and Mar. 1.

Next: Raptors face tough decision with Fred VanVleet

Who do you believe Ujiri is alluding to in terms of potential buyout candidates? Who do you predict will be the surprise signing — if any — by the Raptors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.