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Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri apologized to DeMar DeRozan for assuring the four-time All-Star that he won’t be traded.
DeRozan, who played his entire career with the Raptors, was sent by the team to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The Raptors also traded Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs.
“I want to not only apologize to DeMar DeRozan for maybe a gap of miscommunication, but also to acknowledge him and what he’s done here with the Raptors, for this city, for this country. There’s no measure to what this kid has done,” Ujiri said.
According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, DeRozan talked with Raptors officials in the Summer League and came away with the belief that he won’t be moved. DeRozan expressed his disappointment with the Raptors in an Instagram post, citing that there is no loyalty in this game.
Big Loss For The Raptors
The ninth overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft was instrumental to the Raptors’ success in the league. He spearheaded the Raptors to five consecutive playoff appearances, but they were swept by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the last two post-seasons.
Ujiri clarified that at the time of the Vegas conversation with DeRozan, the Raptors were fourth in line to acquire Leonard. Nonetheless, the Raptors general manager is hoping to properly honor DeRozan, whom he called as the greatest player to ever play for the team.
The 28-year-old DeRozan also helped the Raptors win a franchise record of 59 games during the 2017-18 season. Additionally, DeRozan made the All-Star team four times in the past five years.
Too Hard To Pass Up
Ujiri was quick to defend the Raptors’ decision of moving DeRozan, saying that the chance of getting Leonard was just too good to pass up. Leonard, who won the Defensive Player of the Year twice, played just nine games last season due to an injury.
Leonard, who has expressed his desire to play with the Los Angeles Lakers, said that he is not interested in staying in Toronto for the long run. However, Ujiri reiterated that Leonard didn’t express his lack of interest to play in Canada to him. Ujiri added that he is confident that Leonard would stay in Toronto once his contract runs out at the end of the season.
“I think there’s a lot of sell here, our team, our culture, our city. We have everything here except the championship in my opinion,” Ujiri closed.
Photo: Keith Allison | Flickr
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