One day after Kyle Lowry shared with Rachel Nichols that he felt betrayed when DeMar DeRozan was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri sat down with Nichols on ESPN's The Jump.
When asked about Lowry's terse response regarding their relationship, Ujiri began by joking that "Kyle Lowry is always mad at me." The one-time NBA Executive of the Year continued, providing more depth on the complexity of the business itself as well as player-front office relations:
"I understand what happened with DeMar. There are two things in this business that are tough: when a player leaves and then when a player gets traded. Those two things are tough and in our position, we have to deal with them."
Ujiri made a point to add context to why any player could potentially feel betrayed after being moved, sharing that "with trades, it's tough to communicate with players in that manner. You have to communicate with agents, you can't go and say 'you are going to get traded or you won't get traded.'"
The trade has paid dividends thus far, as the Raptors are off to a franchise-best 20-5 start with plenty of credit owed to Leonard, who is averaging 25.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals in the 19 games he has appeared in. According to Ujiri, the move to acquire the former Finals MVP was an attempt to move past the reoccurring shortcomings the franchise has experienced.
"Honestly we have done something and the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again - and you guys have been on The Jump the same exact way - we have to change. We have to be better and we have to win…The game is all about winning and treating people the right way."
With respect to treating people the right way, Ujiri reiterated that his relationship with DeRozan was positive until the trade on July 18, "God bless DeMar - [if] what I did wrong was trade him, yes that's what I did wrong - if that was wrong. But nothing else."
The Raptors' president maintained that the situation is not as tense as it may seem based on his history with Lowry that dates back to the summer of 2013.
"It's been like that with Kyle since I came here, even [Rachel Nichols] will say it. We don't have confrontations, I've never done anything wrong to him, it's just this kind of decision making that we have to go through and I know how Kyle is. Honestly, I love him to death, he plays basketball the right way, he gives it his all and I'm so used to it, and I know he has a good heart and I know that I haven't done anything wrong to him."
Lowry and the Raptors take the floor Wednesday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.