Toronto Raptors Media Day is rarely an overwhelmingly stressful exercise for this fanbase, but Masai Ujiri needed to come out and placate a fanbase that is sitting on pins and needles right now due to all the uncertainty around this team. He did little to placate them.
This offseason was simultaneously too busy and not busy enough. The team lost Fred VanVleet and changed head coaches, yet they were unable to seal the deal after being connected to some of the biggest names in basketball via trade. Ujiri’s Raptors have a ton of work to do.
Ujiri’s press conference left many less reassured than they were at the beginning of this escapade, as he seemed to be much more accepting of what the Raptors are right now than the fanbase is. The questioning started off spicy, with Masai being prodded about the Fred VanVleet saga. His response was shaky.
Ujiri said he takes “full responsibility” for failing to trade VanVleet if VanVleet had a “great opportunity” that is viewed as a failure. If? It was! Ujiri also added that in Houston, but that true statement shouldn’t overshadow his inability to get something of value for him.
Ujiri also contradicted himself when asked about Pascal Siakam and his extension talks. While he said that Toronto has “always taken care of our players” with him at the helm, he also said the team has “time to discuss” options with Siakam and confirmed he hasn’t been extended.
Toronto Raptors’ Masai Ujiri underwhelms at Media Day.
Ujiri is playing with fire, and he doesn’t seem to be too alarmed by that fact. Being a stoic leader is one thing, but refusing to accept that Toronto is not in an advantageous position due to an uncertain future created partially by Ujiri himself isn’t the best way to get momentum on your side.
Ujiri continuously repeated the idea that certain players on this team didn’t play “the right way” or played “selfish” last season. Not only is that a nebulous term that defies a simple definition, but it seems to give off the impression that he genuinely believes everything is fine in the Raptors organization.
The Raptors can reverse all of the negativity if they get off to a hot start under Darko Rajakovic. Until that happens, fans will likely continue to be frustrated with Ujiri and his inaction.