Masai Ujiri Rumors
Ujiri didn’t fire anyone, even though he had the political capital to do anything he wanted. He re-signed Lowry and Serge Ibaka. The “culture reset” was a mandate for stylistic change: Our offense doesn’t work in the playoffs. Change it. The subtext was obvious: If we don’t, more drastic changes will come. Change was the goal when the Raptors hired Nick Nurse, an offensive guru from the (then) D-League, in the summer of 2013. Nurse came in for an interview, and on an office whiteboard drew the offense he envisioned: different starting points, reads, passes, options. “The framework of what we are doing now,” Nurse says, “was up on that board
Last season, after enduring another sweep, this time at the hands of the Cavaliers, Masai Ujiri infamously announced the Raptors needed a “culture reset.” It read like the final nail in the coffin for Casey’s tenure in Toronto. Bobby Webster has an alternative explanation. “We felt like we were better than a 4-0 sweep,” Webster said. “It was really just Masai’s challenge to all of us. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done, and let’s be proud of how we’ve gotten here, but if we really wanna be a championship contending team, we need to make some changes.”
In the days following that low point, the Raptors’ internal braintrust burned the midnight oil to put Ujiri’s “culture reset” into action. When Webster and Ujiri asked Casey what he saw, they were, in Webster’s words, “exactly on the same page.” The league was passing the Raptors’ plodding, isolation style by. And so the mandate was born: more ball movement, more spacing, more running, and an increased focus on developing their young talent. “[Culture reset] suggests that change is coming. But that doesn’t mean you have to change personnel,” Webster said. “People can change.”
Related: the 31-14 Raptors they are just 2-4 in games decided by three points or less. Would some more knock down three-point shooting around DeRozan help come clutch time? With the trade deadline coming into view it would seem that the Raptors would be wise to comb the rosters of teams that are likely punting on the playoffs in a search for additional shooting if they’re going to shoot as much as they do from three. But it’s not a turnkey solution and the organizational philosophy seems to be to look beyond a short-term fix in favour of longer-term, internal development.
After talking to an angered Masai Ujiri, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said President Donald Trump’s reportedly vulgar comment on immigration “is discouraging” but will not deter the work of the NBA and NBPA in creating real change in communities.
“I certainly understand how upset he is as an immigrant to this country and Canada,” Silver told ESPN when asked about the Toronto Raptors president and some other players being extremely upset with President Trump’s controversial comments reported by multiple outlets last week. “I think for him, someone who does so much in his daily life to improve the life of Africans through his personal foundation, through our Basketball Without Borders program, it is discouraging. But Masai will not in any way be deterred from the work he is doing just as the league won’t be.”
“I tend to be an optimist,” Silver also said. “Certainly, as I am reminded of the history of this country, much of it which took place during my lifetime, there has been tremendous progress, there is no question about it. Having said that, we have a long way to go.”