DeRozan’s anger over trade may hurt Raptors for some time

Rudy Gay says his current team, the San Antonio Spurs, treats their people right. He contrasts that with how DeMar DeRozan feels about the Raptors. This is a problem for Toronto.

Many members of Rapture Nation feel Yours Truly fusses too much about how the Toronto Raptors, as a franchise, is perceived by NBA players. I worry about worrying too, although my concern is not always overblown.

The Hartford Courant has an interview with UConn alumnus (and former Raptor) Rudy Gay. He compares his current organization, the San Antonio Spurs, to the Raptors through the filter of the DeMar DeRozan trade. Not surprisingly, our team comes out looking poorly.

While I urge you to read the whole thing, here’s the money quote, “On one side, there was [Leonard] that was trying to get out, get to a bigger market, and they were totally being up front with him, and then they trade him for a guy [DeRozan] where, that organization wasn’t being up front with him at all.”

Perception is Reality – that’s a old saw from Marketing 101 which I’ve always detested, but never found a counter-argument to. In the eyes of some NBA players, the Raptors are now viewed as a ruthless organization which talks out of both sides of its mouth.

We can dismiss Gay’s words as those of a company man saying the right things about his current firm. He feels no warmth for Masai anyway; Ujiri moved him to Sacramento in a trade which came up roses for Toronto.

[The Raptors organization] wasn’t being up front with him at all – Rudy Gay, in referring to DeMar DeRozan

Oh to have surreptitiously recorded that infamous conversation between Ujiri and DeRozan in Las Vegas! DeMar “heard” he wouldn’t be traded, while Masai claims otherwise. We’ll never know, but damage was done.

Masai apologized for the “misunderstanding”. Sadly, DeRozan remains bitter, and will likely be so for some time. If he starts to mellow, will his once-again teammate Gay fan the flames of resentment?

Kawhi Leonard, a.k.a. Silent Sam, hasn’t displayed any signs of unhappiness (or anything else) so far about joining the Raptors. But he’s a sensitive sort, which is the main reason he wanted out of San Antonio. He felt they weren’t being sufficiently attentive to his injury concerns.

Here’s the worst case scenario, and ultimate irony: the trade which brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto spawned the reason Leonard decided he couldn’t trust Masai Ujiri, which in turn hardened Leonard’s resolution to flee the Raptors at first chance.

Let’s hope Masai restores his battered image, and that time does indeed heal all wounds.