Raptors not looking to shock basketball fans again...
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Jun 23, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Raptors not looking to shock basketball fans again at NBA draft, Masai Ujiri says

GM said he and his staff have narrowed the list of possible 20th picks to about five players.

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Myriad possibilities exist for Masai Ujiri in the final days before Thursday’s NBA draft and the only thing Raptors president and general manager is discounting is another Bruno Caboclo-esque shocker.

Everything else is on the table.

“We’re open for business,” Ujiri said Tuesday in what is likely his last public utterance before the draft unfolds.

A year ago, Ujiri stunned the NBA by taking Caboclo, the unheralded and widely unknown Brazilian teenager, primarily because Ujiri didn’t think Caboclo would be there when Toronto chose 37th and there was no one at No. 20 who was promising.

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This time around — if he keeps the pick — Ujiri plans to be more traditional.

“This year, there’s good depth in the draft, we feel comfortable that we’ll get a player but also, you know what, we might move the pick . . . there’s lots of flexibility this year,” he said.

“The strategy now is to pick the best player available depending on what deals come to us or what deals we make.”

Ujiri said he and his staff have narrowed the list of possible 20th picks to about five; the general consensus is the group includes power forwards Montrezl Harrell of Louisville, Kevon Looney of UCLA, point guard Jerian Grant of Notre Dame and small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Arizona.

However, so much depends on what transpires with the first 19 picks, it’s difficult to predict what might happen.

But it is obvious that Masai sees a need to change a roster that won 49 games last season but one that flamed out terribly in a short, ignominious playoff series, swept aside easily by the Washington Wizards.

“I think I messed up a lot with the composition of the team, how we played and the types of players we had,” Ujiri said.

“We’ve evaluated a lot of stuff and maybe make a couple of changes here and there but I think our core remains the same . . . that being said we’re open minded and open for business.”

And having the 20th pick to put in a trade package for any number of players might make a deal more possible.

“In the big picture, it’s packaged with something else, that’s what gets the big deals done,” Ujiri said.

There is no one positional need on the roster that’s crying out to be filled, increasing the options in front of the general manager.

Facing a few tough decisions when the NBA free agency market opens July 1, Ujiri could have holes to fill in the front court, on the wing and there is no third point guard under contract. He is adamant that he’d take the “best player available” if he makes the selection and with holes everywhere, that player will fill a need.

One of the more interesting change developments came late Monday night when Greivis Vasquez said on social media both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets were interested in obtaining him. That a player would publicly leak trade rumours about himself is odd.

“Greivis says a lot of things, take it with a grain of salt,” Ujiri said. “Greivis is Greivis.”

Toronto Star

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