Poll: Should The Raptors Target Canadians?

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri indicated that one of the franchise’s priorities is to add a Canadian player to its roster. There are currently 10 Canadian players in the NBA, and they are responsible for $30,511,748 in cap hits, or an average salary of $3,051,175 for the 2014/15 campaign. Ujiri, who’s in the second year of a five-year contract, promised that the team will have a Canadian player even if he doesn’t have a long tenure in charge of the Raptors.

“We are studying it. I even considered last year hiring somebody to concentrate just on Canadian players and I think I’m going to go through with it because the growth of the game here is so big,” Ujiri said. “It’s the fit. We can maybe take our time and study it a little bit so it is the right fit and not do it just to do it. It’s going to come, there is no doubt in my mind. It’s an obligation that I think we have to fulfil. We are a Canadian team and I think to have Canadian players, I think will be phenomenal.”

It’s understandable that the Raptors would like to add an element of national pride to their roster. Having a Canadian to cheer for certainly couldn’t hurt ticket and merchandise sales, but unless the player added something tangible to the team, the idea isn’t necessarily a wise one given how precious each roster spot has become in this day and age. As far as the players are concerned, one advantage that the team would have in luring Canadian free agents or retaining a Canadian player obtained via a trade is that those players would already be accustomed to Canada’s higher tax rate, something that can be a hindrance when competing dollar-for-dollar for NBA talent with U.S. based teams. Though, representing one’s country on the hardwood on a nightly basis could prove to be a daunting task. A player would need to weigh the added pressure and attention versus the desire to play for his country’s only NBA squad.

What do you readers say? Is it a smart idea for the Raptors to target Canadian players? Cast your vote below and feel free to take to the comments section to expand on the topic.

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5 thoughts on “Poll: Should The Raptors Target Canadians?

  1. alphakira

    J.R. is from the area and us NYers through him under the bus his first bad week here. Rose is from Chicago and the entire city came down hard on him when he got hurt the first time. Marbury, well, Marbury happened and he was a NY kid through and through. Outside of the initial pride, nothing matter but winning to fans.

    • RapFan99

      Yeah, the pressure would be high, especially considering that Toronto media can be hard on people (see Leafs), but if Chicago can have Rose, and Cleveland can have Lebron, why can’t Toronto have Wiggins. Be great story line for him to come home and win first championship for Raps, and first Championship for team outside US.

  2. Sports Guy

    I think you guys might be taking it a bit out of context. I think Masai means he’d potentially target Canadians, not go out of his way to get a Canadian that would make his team worse, he’s smarter than that.

    It’s obvious in the past many Americans wanted to leave Canada (Vince, Bosh, Mourning, etc), and players that embrace Canada (Lowry) are hard to come by. By targeting Canadians, they are targeting players that won’t leave because they are playing a different country. Toronto is a huge city but they suffer from the same problem as small market teams like OKC and Milwaukee face: most players prefer large *American* markets, and generally Canadian players would value the Toronto market as highly as the NY/LA/Chicago/Dallas/Miami areas

    • HoopsRumors

      Agreed on your second point. But in terms of Canadians on the Raptors, it seems pretty clear that Ujiri is determined to make it happen. Here’s another quote from Ryan Wolstat’s Toronto Sun story (link to torontosun.com

      “There’s no doubt during my time, even if my time is short, there will be a Canadian player on the Toronto Raptors. It’s important that players get inspired to play for their country, inspired to play for the Raptors. This continues to get bigger.”

      I think Masai has made it pretty clear he will indeed target Canadian players. Now, I don’t think he’ll commit the full mid-level to Joel Anthony or anything like that, but it seems like he’s willing to choose someone like Anthony over another minimum-salary player who’s perhaps more worthy of a spot from a pure basketball standpoint. That won’t necessarily hurt the team, but it could.


  3. RapFan99

    It would be a Canadian ratings bonanza if they landed Wiggins. And I do think they have chance eventually, because national pride is different from city to city pride. I also think it would be great for kids to see someone from their country playing for their team. I think Americans don’t realize how lucky they are to have mostly Americans playing for them. If the US had a soccer team filled with all Europeans, they’d still cheer for the team, but would def want an American on there to root for. So I hope it happens, but I hope Masai doesn’t just do it to do it.

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