11:32 PM ET.
Masai Ujiri, president of basketball operations for the Raptors, said he’s not sure what will happen to Kyle Lowry when he wakes up Thursday morning, but that he and the rest of the Toronto front office will be happy either way.
Honestly, we didn’t know which way to go, Ujiri said after he traded Norman Powell for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, but didn’t end up trading Lowry until 3 p.m. Thursday. The deadline for negotiations on the SOW has passed. Because we really talked about looking at this team in all directions.
We got to a point where we felt comfortable in both directions.
Ujiri joked that Lowry’s press conference after Wednesday night’s win over the Denver Nuggets – which felt like a 25-minute farewell to Toronto and its fans – was a circus, and that it might not have been the right way to … It was a little surreal.
But as he did Thursday, Ujiri ultimately decided it was the right decision to stay with the greatest player in the history of the Raptors franchise and insisted that a decision on his future with the team would be made in the offseason.
When asked what would happen next, Ujiri said he would then talk to Lowry.
Then we’ll talk about it, he said. I guess we’ll talk about that at the end of the season. But I think we all know the respect and feelings for Kyle and this club and what he has done for more than just the city, the team, the country and the league.
Honestly, our team can go in a lot of different directions. I keep saying that. We feel comfortable in both. We may have missed an opportunity here, but we also think we have an opportunity in other areas in the future. This team, especially after what we’ve seen this year, can go in many different directions. That’s where we are now.
Lowry called Thursday a crazy day in an Instagram post, but the love I got from everyone was amazing. He added: Thanks to everyone who let me know I was loved and for all the birthday wishes.
As for the player Ujiri traded for, Powell said the opportunity to get a talented player who is also a few years younger than Trent – who becomes a restricted free agent this summer – was too good to pass up.
Gary Trent is a 23-year-old player with a lot of potential, a shooter, a defender who fits into our core team, Ujiri said. That’s our concern.
Ujiri has also been asked repeatedly if he will turn to free agency when his contract expires this summer. As he has done so many times in the past, Ujiri simply said they would look into it later, adding that the Raptors organization would be fine no matter what.
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When asked what that meant, Ujiri gave a long answer, praising the fans in Toronto, where the Raptors, who play this season in Tampa, Florida, haven’t played in over a year.
This place is great. Ujiri was talking about Toronto. The property, the city, the land, everything it represents. I wish it for all those in this world who can experience it. It’s amazing. And if anyone can understand my point of view, God bless you. This is a great, great blessing. That’s all I can say about the Toronto Raptors. It’s amazing.
It’s been a tough season for the Raptors, who lost nine games and finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with a win over the Nuggets. But with a talented core with long-term contracts with Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, and Lowry still on the team, Ujiri said the Raptors have no intention of trying to maximize their draft picks.
Yes, they are fighting, Ujiri said. They fight together, you see they like to play together, and yes, there have been ups and downs, you’ve seen it, there have been challenges, but at the end, when you walk into our locker room with these guys, and I see Kyle and Fred and OG and Pascal, and they’re really all together.
What they want to build, the experience that they have together to win, we’re fortunate, we’re blessed to have been a winning organization, and we hope to continue that in some way, and we have a good vision for this baseball club to continue that. There can always be incidents along the way, but I think the overall culture that we have needs to remain, and these players are a big part of that.
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