Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri provides much-needed optimism on Kawhi’s departure

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri and family wave during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri and family wave during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri addressed the media for the first time since Kawhi Leonard’s departure and isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet.

If there is one thing we have learned about Masai Ujiri during his tenure as Toronto Raptors president, you always trust his next plan of action.

After losing out on the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, Ujiri spoke to reporters at Summer League and didn’t hold back on his feelings about the way the process went down.

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Obviously, there is some disappointment considering the Raptors spent the entire season trying to convince Leonard to stay and it was looking quite promising until the news came out that he was teaming up with Paul George join the LA Clippers.

As Sportsnet’s Michael Grange wrote in his latest article, even Clippers officials thought the Raptors had done everything right and were in a good spot to keep the NBA Finals MVP.

This is probably where the frustration for Raptors fans comes in because of the steps the organization took to make sure they had earned Kawhi’s trust with the load management situation. However, there was always the scenario where Leonard would leave after the season and that’s probably something Ujiri anticipated but maybe was hoping to change.

Rather than sounding bitter about the way everything played out, Ujiri took the high road saying that they got a championship out of it and there’s no reason to be upset about it.

"“I think we got a great deal out of this. We won a championship so we’re happy. And honestly, it’s on to the next. This is the NBA and this is how it works,” Ujiri told reporters. “I always say there’s no time to go out and cry. You can’t hide under the table and cry. Honestly, I’ve lost no sleep, I’m not disappointed. It’s on to what’s next. I’m telling Raptors fans and everybody, don’t lose one day of sleep, one second of sleep. We’re going to be just fine. We’re going to be alright.” ​"

It is this kind of much-needed optimism that should bring comfort to Raptors’ fans because it is Ujiri’s job to look at the big picture and not dwell on situations beyond his control.

When you look at what the Raptors have moving forward, it’s tough to say this team can easily repeat as NBA champions but to suggest they are in trouble shouldn’t be the case.

They have the assets and promising young talent to remain competitive in the East which right now doesn’t boast the same challenge as the Western Conference. Pascal Siakam is on his way to establishing himself as a star and hopefully, OG Anunoby can bounce back from a tough sophomore campaign.

Maybe the way they handled Leonard’s situation could help them down the road with other free agents and maybe Ujiri’s reputation can help them in that department too.

There is no reason to feel like the sky is falling right now, the Raptors are still champions, and if Ujiri’s comments don’t inspire some confidence maybe nothing will.

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