The Toronto Raptors swung for the fences earlier this summer when the team made a deal for Kawhi Leonard. Toronto gave up beloved guard DeMar DeRozan and a few more pieces to grab Leonard and Danny Green, making it clear that they’d do anything to get a superstar up north, even if it meant getting rid of someone who had made it clear that they wanted to stay with the Raptors for a long time.
Matters are further complicated by the fact that Leonard has the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, and there’s no guarantee he’s anything more than a year-long rental in Toronto. But for Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the gamble is worth it, because he believes he’ll be able to make a successful pitch to keep Leonard around.
Ujiri appeared on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast and touched on a number of subjects pertaining to the Raptors. This included laying out the pitch he plans on making to Leonard on why Toronto is the best place for him, both on and off the court.
Via CBS Sports:
We are who we are. We are going to be prepared, we are going to make things as smooth… I think you want to be genuine, you want to be real. You know, this is who we are. We might not be the best ones in weather, but we might be the best ones in many other places: the diversity, the city, the uniqueness of a place like [Toronto], fans, the atmosphere. I think those things are so unique, it’s beginning to show everywhere.
And then you have to put the basketball together. Maybe before the basketball wasn’t a part of it, but I know there’s a part of him that I’m sure thinks this team has a chance. With his teammates and seeing how hard these guys are working. We have to show who we are. There is no fake sales job here — this is what it is.
Leonard is a well-documented west coast guy, and there have been plenty of indications that he wants to head there as soon as possible. Time will eventually tell if that ends up being the case, but Ujiri obviously went into this project with a gameplan, and as he laid out here, it’s about as good of a plan as you can have in this situation.