During his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday, Raptors president and vice chairman Masai Ujiri spoke about potentially adding a reliable backup point guard to help ease the burden on Fred VanVleet, per Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star. Ujiri also said Toronto could use a center who can shoot, defend the rim, and switch defensively. However, he acknowledged that finding those players won’t be easy, given what the team asks of its rotation players — especially on defense.
“Yes, it is a high standard … we want to play on both sides of the court, that’s really important, and there’s a fine line,” Ujiri said. “There’s a lot of luck to it when you’re trying to find those guys that actually fit, that really, really fit. We’re hoping. I trust our scouts, our player personnel guys, they’ve done an excellent job. If we can’t find then, we’ll develop them. That’s what we’re hoping.”
As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, the Raptors will have to decide this summer how much long-term money they’re willing to add to their books. VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could be in line for raises as soon as 2023, while Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby can become free agents in 2024. In other words, the team will have to be wary about how it approaches multiyear commitments for free agents, including Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young.
“I think there are things we’re really going to evaluate the next few days,” Ujiri said when asked about possible multiyear deals. “This is what you guys making me do this press conference right after the season (causes). If you’d waited three weeks, then I’d (have) been able to tell you what all our meetings (yielded) and all the things that we want to do. But right now, I don’t have an answer for you.”
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Addressing the report that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is a top target for the Lakers, Ujiri dismissed that rumor, according to Koreen. “No team has contacted me, and I see all the stuff you see.” Ujiri said. “I dream like they dream. I want (Lionel) Messi. I want (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I want Kobe Bryant. So they can keep dreaming. I dream, too.”
- Contrary to popular belief, Toronto’s biggest need isn’t at center, but on the perimeter, contends Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. While the Raptors would certainly inquire if a big man like Rudy Gobert or Myles Turner become available, they don’t want to commit to a lesser center who doesn’t fit their system, according to Lewenberg, who says the club “desperately” needs more shooting and possibly another shot creator.
- Toronto hasn’t historically been a marquee NBA free agent destination, but Nurse – who spoke this week about wanting to add more catch-and-shoot players and athletic wings – sees no reason why the Raptors shouldn’t be able to attract talent. “I think we got a lot to offer here,” Nurse said (Twitter link via Eric Koreen of The Athletic). “We’ve got a winning team, great fans, first-class organization. I’d want to play here.”
- Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previews some of the big decisions facing the Raptors this offseason, while Drew Maresca of BasketballNews.com takes a look at how the team retooled its roster following Kawhi Leonard‘s 2019 departure.