The Toronto Raptors’ new General Manager, Masai Ujiri, has not taken long to lay waste to front office executives and the scouting department, and no one knows who’s next. We can almost be certain that Ujiri is far from finished cleaning house. Andrea Bargnani is on the trading block and it has to be assumed that if necessary ANY other players will be bundled with Bargnani to get him out of town.
I believe that Ujiri is only scratching the surface of the roster changes with Bargnani. By the end of last season, our starting five was Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. I would be surprised if, by the February trade deadline, we are still using more than 3 of them as starters. I believe Ujiri will send at least one packing (likely in a Bargnani trade) as well as demoting Amir Johnson to a support player, possibly doing the same with DeRozan and Lowry. An aggressive shakeup like this could see someone’s favorite Raptor traded away in an attempt to build a championship contender. If some of these moves get rid of some of our beloved players, but lead us to the promised land, I’m sure we will forgive Masai see him as our new Saviour. Conversely, should a popular player such as Amir Johnson be moved for players who don’t blossom in Toronto, our fans will not hesitate to regard Masai as a Pariah for what he’s done to our team.
Ujiri has never been scared to make bold, controversial trades. His most noteworthy deal (while at the helm of the Denver Nuggets) involved the forced trade of Carmelo Anthony, who made it clear he would only be happy as a New York Knick. Masai used Chauncey Billups as a valuable piece to help complete that trade, which might otherwise not have closed. Managing to get quality players like Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and even mildly disappointing Wilson Chandler in return was a coup. Masai’s track record is a good one to date. Continuing to make solid moves like the Anthony trade and the draft of Kenneth Faried would certainly endear him to Raptor fans and me. After combing through Masai’s initial interviews, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point and go on the record to say Masai will be our Messiah. I pray he will not make me eat my words at the end of the season.
Greg Hall is a Staff Writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.