We’re fully into the NBA off-season now, but there was still one last piece of business to wrap up from the Toronto Raptors’ championship season: President Masai Ujiri’s end-of-season press conference.
Read on for a few highlights, or, watch the full video right below. Ujiri went in front of the cameras for almost an hour, touching on everything from the Raptors’ title, basketball in Africa, Kawhi Leonard’s free agency, and more:
A few notes and miscellany:
- Let’s get this out of the way, Ujiri did not address the allegations from Oakland police regarding his assaulting a deputy following Game 6 against the Warriors, saying only, “I am confident about who I am as a person, a character, a human being.”
- Speaking of addressing things, Ujiri said of Kawhi Leonard’s upcoming free agency, that he is “confident,” but that he always is, and that he feels the team and Leonard have “built a trust.”
- Ujiri also said he himself has a long future ahead in Toronto, and that he and his family love the city.
- On that note, Ujiri also gave a shout out to DeMar DeRozan, Dwane Casey, and Jonas Valanciunas, crediting them for their part in creating the “foundation” of the Raptors.
- On Pascal Siakam, who won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award last night, Ujiri said his season shows others in Africa in Pascal’s situation what they can do.
- On his conversations with Danny Green and Marc Gasol, Ujiri confirms that they all know Kawhi is the first free agent situation to sort out — but that the others are interested in running it back. “We’re really approaching it like we want to bring everybody back.”
- Masai acknowledges that Jon Horst (in Milwaukee) and Tim Connelly (in Denver) were the deserved one-two in the Executive of the Year voting. Says he has the trophy that really matters.
- Ujiri does talk about the two-hour meeting he had with Kyle Lowry mid-season. Said it was a “difficult meeting” because it was between two “direct and truthful [to each other]” people. He also credits it in part with a change in the Raptors’ tenor down the stretch.
- The club house leader for best quote: “Nobody’s talking that stuff now [about Canada and Toronto], because we have a championship and we believe in us.”
- Apparently Doug Smith of the Toronto Star is going to get a ring? (Of all the members of the Toronto media, he’d be the guy to deserve one.)
There are a million other highlights to include here — to repeat: Ujiri talked for almost an hour! At one point he talks about Giannis! In another, he guarantees the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup! — but you really just have to watch the whole thing to get the good vibes from the presser. Ujiri and the Raptors are champions, and the glow is definitely still real.