Leonard led the Raptors to the title in his first season with the team. At left is the Larry O'Brien Trophy. I always say that the hardest thing in this business is trading a player and free agency, and we always have to be ready for both.
The team took a big step toward adding an impact piece when they cleared even more cap space in a deal with the Washington Wizards.
With Kevin Durant likely to miss all of the 2019-20 National Basketball Association season, many would consider Kawhi Leonard the biggest prize in free agency this summer.
Russell's agent has been looking everywhere for a team willing to give his player the full $27.5 million max, after finding many teams think his value is a little below that ($22 million to $25 million).
"He knows who we are, we know who he is". I said this to you guys, we have to be ourselves.
Ujiri stressed the main selling points of his pitch to Leonard: health, trust, success. And I feel like they got (Durant) back. "And I think my feeling and my hope is that there are more championships so we can correct that", he said.
"We'll wait", Ujiri said.
Shortly after the deal was complete, Ujiri said trading DeRozan was a very hard decision for him to make. The team's brand has grown immensely thanks to its run to the championship, but Ujiri thinks there is a larger runway still.
And lastly, the Raptors are the reigning champions and have proven capable of keeping Leonard healthy and competitive, on top of gaining his trust. Ujiri said their comfort level was noticeably off around the trade deadline, so they got together for a long discussion. "For us, there is that trust regardless of wherever it goes".
Center Marc Gasol also has a player option for next season, and guard Danny Green is a free agent. "Kawhi truly deserves the Barbados experience and we look forward to welcoming him post-season". "That's a priority for us". The parties plan to meet during the summer league.
In the Sports Illustrated article, Lowry talks about the trades he has been a part of, landing in Toronto and losing his best friend and teammate DeMar DeRozan in the trade for Leonard.
Ujiri said little about his confrontation with a deputy following the Game 6 clincher.