For the first time since 2012-13, the NBA Playoffs will not feature the Toronto Raptors.
In posting a 27-45 record, the Raptors finished the 2020-21 season in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They were still fighting for a spot in the Play-In Tournament entering the final month of the regular season, but a seven-game losing streak following a win over the Los Angeles Lakers took them out of the race.
On Wednesday, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke about his goal for the team moving forward.
"Let me tell you something, guys: Everybody has forgotten what happened two years ago," he said. "Yes, we won. But nobody cares anymore, OK? We want to win another one. That's what you want to do. Yeah, you want to prepare yourself to win another one. Not play in the Play-In game, not play in the playoffs. You want to win a championship. Everybody's like, 'Why don't you get into the Play-In?' Play-In for what? We want to win a championship here, and we have to put ourselves in position."
🚨Masai speech🚨- William Lou (@william_lou) May 19, 2021
"This is all about winning the championship again. Lemme tell you something - everybody has forgotten what happened two years ago. We won. Nobody cares anymore. We want to win another one ... everybody's like why dont you get in the play in -- play in FOR WHAT?" pic.twitter.com/jmdMU34yrM
Ujiri joined the Raptors in 2013, signing a five-year contract to be the team's executive vice president and general manager. His contract was then extended in 2016, and he took over as the franchise's president of basketball operations.
With his deal set to expire at the end of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Ujiri said that he'll have conversations with the team's ownership in the coming weeks before deciding what's next.
Michael Grange of Sportsnet reported earlier in the week that the Raptors have "mounting confidence" they will be able to sign Ujiri.
"So what's the next lift? What's the next five years? What's the next 10 years? What are we doing to put ourselves in the conversation with all the great teams and all the winners? That's what we want to do, and that's the conversation that I'm going to have with [ownership]. And, yes, I'm going to have asks, and I'm going to have a lot of things that I think we need to put forward here to address these things, and I think ownership is open to hear this.
"In terms of that conversation, that's going to be had."
The Raptors have a busy offseason ahead of them. Not only is Ujiri up for an extension, Kyle Lowry and Khem Birch will be unrestricted free agents while recently acquired Gary Trent Jr. will be a restricted free agent.
While family will be a "major factor" in Lowry's free agent decision - "money talks and years talk," he added - he says he will be keeping a close eye on what happens with Ujiri.
"Our relationship has grown from the time I've been here, to the time now," Lowry said of Ujiri. "Our relationship has gotten better, put it that way.
"At the end of the day, and I told him, part of the reason I'm still here is because of him. Part of the reason I re-signed here twice is because of him, that's a large part of why I'm able to be who I am and gotten to this point.
"So his decision, yes, it will definitely factor into anything."
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