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Masai Ujiri On Tim Leiweke's Departure, DeMar DeRozan's Growth And More

In a radio appearance yesterday, Masai Ujiri expressed disappointment in Tim Leiweke's departure and praised DeMar DeRozan's work ethic.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Masai Ujiri appeared as a guest on The Fan 590's Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and discussed several things. You can listen to the entire interview here, a summary of what was discussed:

  • On Tim Leiweke's departure: Ujiri said he's pretty close to Leiweke, so as early as July, he knew about his situation before the public announcement came. He is disappointed because he thinks chemistry -- and in this case, the continuity of having Leiweke in the long term -- is underrated in this business. But he also stressed that while ownership, leaders and players come and go, the team is the one thing that will always be here. And he is a leader for certain parts of this team and will keep it moving. Ujiri said he was disappointed only for a few days and believes the Raptors were lucky to have Leiweke for a year plus whenever he officially leaves his position at MLSE.
  • On DeMar DeRozan's growth: Ujiri praised DeRozan's development in this past year, pointing out that he made the All-Star team, played well -- except for Game 1, which he noted -- in the playoffs and is now on Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. Ujiri asked DeRozan this summer what the next step was, and said DeRozan answered him in one sentence: "We have to win big, we have to win in the playoffs." He's impressed by DeRozan's approach, because he works hard everyday and has an honest purpose. Ujiri called DeRozan "the height of what a professional should be." He admitted that he didn't see DeRozan as an All-Star a year ago, but is really proud of how far he's come.
  • On the possibility of a significant roster move before training camp: Ujiri reiterated that he was happy to bring the core of the roster back this summer, and while he doesn't expect any moves to be made between now and training camp, he's leaving the door open because the NBA has 30 crazy general managers.
  • On the team's new practice facility: He says the current practice facility isn't below the NBA standard, but it's simply inconvenient for some players -- he pointed out DeRozan -- who sometimes want to go to the gym and shoot the night before a game. Ujiri says the new facility will be one of the best in the league, and another significant piece in building the Raptors brand.