Outside observers will acknowledge the Toronto Raptors are incapable of building a winning team with their current core, as the main pieces do not fit well alongside one another and the team lacks spacing. Masai Ujiri, on the other hand, is not giving into this groupthink, logic be damned.
Ujiri has had multiple opportunities to start a new era of Raptors basketball by trading away a starter for a haul that makes them more deep and offensively dynamic. Names like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. are all impending free agents and, therefore, possible trade chips.
While fans are ready for a rebuild, and teams across the league would give up a great deal of assets for some of Toronto's best young players, Michael Grange of Sportsnet seems to believe that Ujiri and the Raptors front office are not as intent on selling off their best players as the rest of the landscape is.
"It’s safe to conclude — and the Raptors have indicated as much to league insiders I’ve spoken with — that there is no appetite for a reset, teardown or rebuild," Grange said. As it stands right now, the Raptors might once again bring everyone back and let nature run its course.
NBA rumors: Toronto Raptors not eyeing rebuild at trade deadline
It's understandable to see why Ujiri doesn't want to tear things down to the studs. Teams like the Pistons and Spurs have been terrible for years despite adding some promising young players. When paired with Toronto's difficulties in free agency, it could be hard to build a winner.
Where Ujiri loses most fans is his lack of urgency. The Raptors haven't made progress with extensions for Siakam, Anunoby, or Trent, and the combination of Toronto's best players simply hasn't produced winning basketball. Why is Ujiri refusing to pick a side?
The Raptors may not want to sell low on some of their best players, but this is the bed they made for themselves. Their value is not as high as it would normally be, but that's what happens when you make a win-now move in acquiring Jakob Poeltl and miss out on big-picture improvements.
The nightmare scenario is losing these players in free agency, as they already did with Fred VanVleet when he joined the improved Houston Rockets. Ujiri either doesn't see that as a disqualifying loss or doesn't care, and it's hard to tell which of those two scenarios is more concerning.