With another early-round exit in the playoffs on the horizon, the Toronto Raptors could be in a very busy offseason as they try to begin a 'radical makeover' in hope of pushing the franchise to the next level.
Veteran NBA insider Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that the Raptors front-office would not make any second thought on pulling off several moves, particularly on the trading front, this offseason in order to get the right personnel they need to compete with top-tier teams.
Windhorst even stated that Raptors GM Masai Ujiri might go on great lengths just to see his ambitious goal materialized, including trading franchise cornerstones DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
The Raptors are on the brink of having another shortened postseason stint after bowing out to the Washington Wizards in the first two games of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Facing elimination against a tough and well-experienced team, Raptors and general manager Masai Ujiri knows that another playoff disappointment would warrant him to make necessary moves in making sure the franchise is heading on a right direction.
Ujiri, the former Executive of the Year winner and the man behind the Raptors' rise to playoff contention the past two years, said in a recent interview with the Toronto Star that he would not make any second thought pulling off the moves to push the Raps to the next move, including trading a cornerstone for a player that better fits their system.
Ujiri added that he's going to evaluate their postseason performance over the past two seasons to see what kind of personnel the Raptors would need to match up well with Eastern Conference elites, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, and gain more playoff success in the future.
"When the off-season comes we will really look at last year's and this year's playoffs . . . the playoffs does make an impact in terms of evaluating for the off-season," Ujiri stressed.
According to Bruce Arthur from Toronto Star, the Raps general manager isn't anywhere close to satisfied seeing his team qualified in the playoff only to get badly beaten in the first round playoffs. Ujiri wants to accomplish bigger things in Toronto. To do that, he's aware that he needs to land an established name or a budding star to make things work in their favor.
From the Toronto Star:
"And maybe this is good, because any illusions can vanish now. Ujiri is not wedded to any of these players, not really. There are inheritances, trades, a draft pick or two, and he has reinvested, with the unexpected burst of success. But this is not Masai Ujiri's team, any more than Casey is 100% his coach. Ujiri has ridden the waves of this core, bolstered it here and there. They have won 48 and 49 games, the two best seasons in franchise history. But he wants bigger things."
"And the next two games will tell a tale. The flaws exist, but the way the Raptors got punched and never punched back - well, if they do that for two games in Washington, then there is something wrong with this group beyond Lowry. And if this group is that dependent on its point guard, on the fickle chemistry, there may be anyway."
"The Raptors will have a significant cap space ($18 million) this offseason, thanks to multiple expiring contracts. Lou Williams, who has become an important part of the team's bench scoring mob, should be a keeper, but other than the Sixth Man of the Year winner, Ujiri is reportedly eyeing the likes of Marc Gasol, Kevin Love or even Kevin Durant.'
The Raptors will always be a long-shot when it comes to attracting big-time free-agent. But still, they have the assets (draft picks and young players) that would make any GMs droll over.
Many analysts believe everyone on the Raps lockers room could be traded moving forward, including cornerstone center Jonas Valanciunas, swingman DeRozan or Lowry by Ujiri if the right offer comes. That's how ambitious the Raps GM is. That's how bad Ujiri wants to win.