Toronto Raptors: Masai Being Masai


Masai Ujiri

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Toronto Raptors have traded John Salmons to the Atlanta Hawks for Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira.

And…. Masai did it again. HE FREAKING DID IT AGAIN!

Masai Ujiri miraculously turned an expiring contract into a decent bench scorer and an asset that might turn out to be good. Just like he turned Rudy Gay’s massive contract into a couple good role players and an expiring, just like he turned cancer Andrea Bargani’s corpse and his absurd contract into a future first round pick and two second round picks. I’m almost at a point where I would trust whatever move he makes. You want to draft some 18 year old Brazilian who is so raw that he’s two years away from being two years away? YOU GO FOR IT MASAI.

This is a great move for the Raptors. The addition of Williams alone make them better in the short-run. Williams is a combo guard that can play with and without the ball. His contract is very reasonable, as it expires after next season.

Adding Williams also prepares them for life without Lowry. While I think Lowry will re-sign with the Raptors, we can’t just assume that he’ll come back. Although Williams is not a traditional point guard, he’ll be a decent guard that can back up or even play alongside of whoever will be starting at the point guard position.

When I first saw this report, I thought the Raptors would lose either Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez. But after reading up on the NBA collective bargaining agreement, I realized that they can totally re-sign Vasquez and/or Lowry as they own the Bird rights to both of them. Using the Bird rights to re-sign all of them would mean the Raptors will most likely pay the luxury tax or get close to the luxury tax cap, but this isn’t a franchise that is worried about spending money.

Other pieces the Raptors will be getting are 7’1” Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira, and his amazing afro.

Nogueira is an extremely raw player who possesses good amount of defensive potential. He is a long shot blocker that can help the Raptors on the defensive end. It would be foolish to think he’ll help this team instantly, because he doesn’t quite know how to play basketball yet. He’s got tremendous potential as a shot blocker in the NBA, but he constantly misses defensive rotations and relies on his athleticism to play. He might be one year away from being one year away.

On paper, this was an one-sided trade that favors the Raptors. But it was a good deal for both teams. The reason why the Hawks did this deal was to create some cap space and potentially go for marquee free agents this off-season.

In conclusion, Ujiri traded away an expiring contract and one year of cap space for a good scorer off the bench and a first round pick. Just another day at the office for Ujiri.


Ray Kim is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Sideline. Send him a mailbag question at raykim@thesidelinesports.com