The Toronto Raptors were the NBA's main character on December 30. On top of executing a trade that sent OG Anunoby to the Knicks and brought in RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, their poor performance on the court made all the wrong kinds of history.
The Raptors lost to the Detroit Pistons, becoming the team with the displeasure of breaking their infamous streak of 28 consecutive losses. The Raptors' culture is clearly showing some cracks, as veteran point guard Dennis Schroder proved with his postgame comments.
“When I got here, Darko did a great job just putting his system into the organization," Schroder said, via Aaron Rose of Sports Illustrated. "But I think we just got to follow that...To be a winning team, we need everybody, even the guys who don't really play. People got to be grateful, cheering on their teammates, when they get a stop, when they get on the floor, dive, pick ‘em up, being excited for one another"
Schroder said that he felt this level of camaraderie with the German national team in FIBA World Cup play but he has yet to see that same brotherhood materialize with the Raptors. That is quite a direct callout, especially for someone who didn't develop as a player within Toronto's culture.
Dennis Schroder rips the Toronto Raptors' culture.
Masai Ujiri deserves a lot of the blame for this. Seeing players get traded is clearly an emotional moment for many of those on the team, and trying to play while trade rumors circled all but one or two rotation players had to make for an awkward environment.
With Barnes being designated as the future of the franchise, veterans trying to earn another contract had to feel awkward with regard to their status within the organization. This can lead to ball-hogging and the dreaded "selfishness" Ujiri ripped in the offseason.
The Raptors' issues aren't going to be totally fixed until there is some resolution to whatever is going on with Pascal Siakam. Either a trade or an extension will give this team some clarity of direction, and that could help Schroder realize his dream of a more connected unit.
With Anunoby out and Barrett and Quickley coming in, perhaps shaking up the locker room might be enough to kick the vibes back into high gear. Hiring a new coach didn't do that, and Ujiri risks the situation spiraling to dangerous levels if he doesn't come up with something.