Raptors Media Day: Masai Ujiri
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Media Day is upon us, meaning the 2019-2020 season is just around the corner. The excitement was felt all around as the staff and players gathered at Scotiabank Arena once again after an eventful summer. Along with the usual antics between the players, there were some serious conversations had about the future of this team.
With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green gone there are a lot of questions about how the team will fill in their spots and whether or not they will be as successful without them.
The first to take the podium was none other than Masai Ujiri.
First and foremost, president Masai addressed the departure of Danny and Kawhi saying “we can’t be upset about Kawhi leaving. It is a part of the business… we need to move on”.
As for the current team, Masai has only one plan. He stated several times that the “expectation is to win. We play sports to win”. He showed no signs of backing down this season, and as mentioned several times, the team is hungry for more. Ujiri claimed the guys will step up and focus always on winning. The President takes it upon himself to adjust what he needs to adjust for his team to win another championship.
When asked about the players that are expected to step up this season Ujiri names a select few he thinks will help the team succeed. “Pascal will make another jump, Fred showed a lot of leadership in the summer. OG had an unlucky year last year but had a very good summer, .. all the young players," he listed.
“Pskills” became a diverse and dynamic player that continues to grow. He will have more on his shoulders this year and is up for the challenge.
Masai is focusing on utilizing the expertise of veteran players like Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. He said they showed “maturity in the playoffs last year… they showed unbelievable composure as veteran players and I think it's going to transfer into this year”. Veteran players are always calm and confident which is reassuring for the younger players.
Ujiri intends on keeping Pascal Siakam and wants to extend his contract, “he’s definitely who I’m gonna keep for a long time here". Discussions about contracts and extensions were not just limited to Pascal, Masai also showed high interest in keeping Kyle Lowry as a part of the Raptors. In a few words, Masai acknowledged all that Lowry has done for the team and why he wanted to keep him in Toronto, "he definitely deserves that. There is legacy status here".
He goes on to say that for the first time, in a long time, it’s a question [who will be the champions]. The is now a balance in the league and he thinks it’s great.
With a lot of pressure on his shoulders, Masai is ready for what is to come and will face it head-on.