For the second consecutive year, Masai Ujiri stood pat at the NBA’s trade deadline, saying he didn’t find any deals worth making.
The Toronto Raptors general manager said there were trades on offer, and yes, the team has areas of need, but the asking prices were just too steep.
“There was nothing good enough for us, we felt,” Ujiri said after Thursday’s deadline passed at 3 p.m. ET. “Anything that was good enough we felt we didn’t want to give up the future of our team for any of the stuff that was out there.”
The Raptors were reportedly interested in acquiring a forward to strengthen the front court for the final eight weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Thaddeus Young of the Brooklyn Nets were some of the names tossed around in published reports.
The Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference with a 35-17 record, behind the 38-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. They went on a franchise-record 11-game win streak in January.
“We’ve showed we’re willing to give our players a chance. We’ve had great chemistry and won 14 of our last 16 games, so why can’t that continue to grow?” Ujiri said. “We hope that gives our players all the confidence in the world to just go out and perform.”
Still, the team has played to strong regular-season records the past two seasons but lost in the first round of the playoffs both times.
Following last season’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards, the Raps parted ways with several players, including Amir Johnson, Greivis Vasquez, Lou Williams, Tyler Hansbrough and Landry Fields. Ujiri acquired much-needed defensive toughness in small forward DeMarre Carroll and centre Bismack Biyombo as well as Cory Joseph, who better eases the minute burden on Kyle Lowry.
“You always look to make your team better, but it’s something I look to do in the summer more if you look to build long term,” Ujiri said. “We have a lot of assets – picks and players – and we felt we could use them better in the summer, in the draft maybe, we’ll see how that goes. We’re in a different situation from last year. Our team changed quite a bit from last year and we addressed some of the needs we had. We’re far from perfect, we’re still trying to grow to be a very good team and hopefully these last 30 games we continue to grow.”
Ujiri said there will be one player added into the Raptors’ lineup that should help the team.
“Maybe our acquisition this trade deadline is DeMarre Carroll,” Ujiri said of Toronto’s starter, who has been recovering from knee surgery since early January. “We’ve played a long time without him and he’s improving and hopefully he’ll be back in the lineup soon. He’s improving, is the latest I hear. There’s no timeline yet but we’re confident and happy he’s getting better.”
It was a relatively quiet day across the NBA compared to previous trade-deadline days with only a few small deals. There was plenty of speculation that big-name players such as Horford, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Jeff Teague, Dwight Howard and Pao Gasol might be traded, but ultimately none of them moved.
The Raptors’ first game after the all-star break is Friday in Chicago against the seventh-place team in the East, the Bulls. They return home on Sunday to face the Memphis Grizzlies.Report Typo/Error