Raptors’ Ujiri: More Trades “Definitely” Possible

The Raptors have made a pair of blockbuster trades in the past few weeks, dealing away longtime veteran forwards OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam for packages centered on young players and draft picks, respectively. They also acquired a valuable role player in swingman Bruce Brown, who is on a pseudo-expiring $22MM contract (2024/25 is a team option for $23MM).

Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, Raptors vice chairman and president Masai Ujiri said more trades are “definitely” a possibility ahead of the February 8 deadline, as Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca relays (via Twitter). In particular, Ujiri highlighted shooting and flexibility as areas of emphasis, Murphy adds.

In a Twitter thread, Murphy passes along several noteworthy comments from Ujiri’s press conference addressing the trades, his close relationship with Siakam, the team’s plans for the future, and much more.

According to Murphy, Ujiri was “clearly quite emotional” when discussing the moves, which he called “incredibly difficult.”

These things happen but that one is close to me,” he said. “I hate to go on this little rant, but what I think of the world globally, and what these guys represent, and where I come from, where they come from, it’s meant a lot to me. … Trust me, we’ve analyzed this in every single way.”

Two African guys that won a championship, I share that with him,” Ujiri said of Siakam (Twitter video link via The Shift). “ … Again, I say to you guys, that guy’s success is my success no matter where he is.”

Ujiri wanted to give the previous roster as much time as it could, but it was trending in the wrong direction. He also cited free agency — both Anunoby and Siakam can be unrestricted free agents this summer — and a desire to get younger around Scottie Barnes as key factors in the moves, per Murphy.

Here’s more from Ujiri’s lengthy press conference:

  • Ujiri had nothing but praise for how Siakam carried himself and performed over the past year while dealing with trade rumors, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. He handled it perfectly,” Ujiri said of Siakam. “I give him 100 out of 100. It has to be difficult, and I said that to him. … Nothing stopped him from coming to work everyday and trying to be the best he could be while he performed. We truly respect that.” However, Ujiri says he regrets how he handled things on his end during the offseason, Lewenberg adds (via Twitter). “I think the lines of communication in the summer were not that great. That part I’m not particularly proud of,” Ujiri said, adding that he apologized to Siakam.
  • When asked if he regretted not making more trades last season, Ujiri said he didn’t, citing a desire to give the 2022/23 team more chances to succeed. He also doesn’t second-guess himself about last year’s trade for Jakob Poeltl. When you trade a first-round pick for a starting center in the NBA, in our business and for us, it’s good — for now and for the future,” Ujiri said, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). “I’m not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. If it was a mistake, it was a mistake, but it was good value for us.”
  • Regarding Christian Koloko, whom the Raptors waived to create roster space for the latest deal, Ujiri said his medical status was in the hands of the NBA. Koloko has yet to play this season due to a respiratory issue. “We’ve exhausted all our options there,” Ujiri said (Twitter link via Murphy) “I can’t comment on particulars. It’s really unfortunate. … He was someone we really believed in. Incredible talent. We saw as the future of this team.
  • The Raptors could have four picks in the 2024 draft, depending on what happens with their own first-rounder (it will be sent to San Antonio as part of the Poeltl deal if it lands outside the top six). They acquired the Pistons’ second-round pick in the Anunoby deal, plus two more 2024 first-rounders from Indiana that are projected to be in the latter portion of what’s considered a weak draft class. Ujiri “strongly doubts” that the Raptors will actually keep all of those picks, tweets Murphy.
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