It required five postseasons without a title before Masai Ujiri had seen sufficient.
The Toronto Raptors had tapped out, Together with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry anchoring the backcourt. In five seasons from 2013-14 into 2017-18, the Raptors won more regular-season games than another Eastern Conference team, but the Raptors watched more first-round exits than trips to the Eastern Conference finalsrather than reaching the NBA Finals.
And therefore, last July, Ujiri made his move. The Raptors traded DeRozan — the leading scorer in franchise history at the summit of his career — along with Jakob Poeltl along with a top-20 shielded 2019 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and money considerations. The Lowry-DeRozan backcourt was divided, the athlete of the Year Dwane Casey was let go after seven seasons, and a brand new era in Toronto had started.
The results have, up to now, been optimistic. Despite Leonard lost about a quarter of this year, the Raptors currently have greater championship chances than they did at this time last year. As such, the home run of Ujiri swing put the rest of the league on notice. If DeRozan isn’t safe, who is? Just like Miami’s Big Three sparked the era of participant agency, the Raptors could have broken the seal to other perennial underachievers to follow suit.
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