Masai Ujiri Anticipates Growing Pains for Young, Transitioning Raptors
Masai Ujiri is a realist.
After making his grand return as the team’s President of Basketball Operations and Vice Chairman, Ujiri understood full well that if he hoped to lead the Raptors back to the NBA Finals, it would take time.
Since their 2019 championship victory, the Raptors have gone onto lose every veteran piece that helped contribute to the monumental moment in Raptors history. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green left in free agency following the end of the championship run. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol would both head out the following Summer. This past offseason, the Raptors bid farewell to franchise cornerstone Kyle Lowry, who opted to sign with the Miami Heat.
The Raptors are now left with a relatively young core, which includes two 27-year olds in Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, a 24-year old in OG Anunoby and the team’s first round selection Scottie Barnes. Surely a core that is still a ways away from what would be considered competitive in the Eastern Conference, let alone the NBA.
“We are not a team of ‘now,'” Ujiri said. “There are going to be growing pains, trust me, you know like, sometimes it’s gonna be tough to watch but we know what’s coming, we know we’re excited about the young talent. They are excited to play – to see how, OG [Anunoby], Pascal [Siakam], Fred, are going to evolve as leaders – as elite players.
“And then the young guys, [Scottie] Barnes, Malachi [Flynn], Dalano [Banton]. In sports, people think ‘now,’ you know? And this is where we have to be patient and let it grow.”
While the upcoming season of Raptors basketball will surely have its ups and downs, Ujiri has built a strong foundation in the front office to provide the organization and its fans with hope of a brighter future.
A new era of Raptors basketball is set to begin.