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Masai Ujiri hasn’t even been formally (re)introduced to the Toronto media yet, but that doesn’t mean that the Raptors new General Manager isn’t already getting his hands dirty.

Ujiri’s first player personnel task will likely be to try to find a landing spot for Andrea Bargnani, but there’s plenty of work to do off the court as well, as members of the front office were let go this weekend.

Ujiri’s first move was to let go of Ed Stefanski, who Bryan Colangelo had brought in to be the team’s Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations. Cuts that followed included veteran scout Jim Kelly, one of the original members of the Raptors organization, as well as vice-president of pro scouting Dave Pendergraft and two regional scouts, according to Doug Smith (needed to include a Smith report to ensure a page view from “youngjames”).

The on-court moves are what will ultimately excite and hopefully invigorate fans, and people losing their jobs is never something to celebrate, but if you were worried that Bryan Colangelo was going to have too much influence in the current setup and you were looking for an indication that Ujiri is going to do things his way, cleaning house of Colangelo’s staff seems to be a pretty glaring one. Smith adds that Marc Eversley’s future “is at best clouded and bleak,” while reports have Maurizio Gherardini potentially returning to Europe.

The purge makes sense when you consider how stern and pointed Tim Leiweke’s comments were the day that Bryan Colangelo was relieved of his GM duties – “We have work to do in this organization. We’re not good enough.” That’s really what this all boils down to in the end.

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In other news, reports emerged this weekend that the NBA’s salary cap for the 2013-14 season will be $58.5 million, up slightly from $58.044 million this season, while the luxury tax threshold will reportedly rise to $71.6 million from $70.3 million.

The Raptors will surely be capped out, and with Linas Kleiza and Aaron Gray picking up their 2013-14 player options, the team already has $71,383,759 committed for next season plus a decision to make on the $1,567,500 team option in John Lucas’ contract, but ridding themselves of Bargnani’s and Kleiza’s contracts via amnesty and trade could be the difference between being a tax team or not. In addition, getting Bargnani’s contract off the books without having to take back a corresponding bad contract could be the difference between Toronto being capped out again next summer and having legitimate cap space.

Either way, Ujiri is going to have to do some major roster shuffling to match his front office shuffling if he wants to be able to work with some financial flexibility anytime soon.

(Raptors salary info courtesy of ShamSports.com)

Comments (36)

  1. I don’t mind some of the talent on the floor, but this roster is a complete disaster on the books. They’ll need to amnesty to get under the luxury tax, they have no 1st round pick, and they just missed the playoffs again. Unbelievable.

    • The fact that we owe over 70 mil in player salary ALREADY is tragic and disgusting. Colangelo should never be allowed to work in the NBA again. When you really step back and think about it, this is probably the worst managed team in professional sports.
      1) Over the cap
      2) Bottom 5 team in the league
      3) No draft pick
      Seriously, is this unprecedented in modern North American sports? At this point, I can only hope we are somehow able to get rid of Gay, Demar and Lowry. COMPLETE gut and tank is the only way to go.

  2. These are all good signs… You could also move Lowry, gay derozan, etc… Reduce this lineup to Valenciunas and Ross, and start with these two, picks and cap space… The future is looking brighter…

    • Agree, at the very least keep Ross and Valanciunas. Bargs is still (gulp!) my favorite player on the team and if he’s gone, then R & V will take over.

      Unless of course Masai is able to make a coup and land fun players.

      • Are you serious?

        You want him to clean house, yet your favourite player is Bargnani?

        There are so many things I wanna say about this, but I don’t think I need to. Speaks for itself

    • LOL what the……why keep Ross!?!?!? What has he shown you that he should be kept around. He should have been sent to the D league last season till he learns to rotate on team D. Yes, he’s a good athlete..but the league is full of athletes. Not many of those athletes are decent bball players. Out of all the rookies…..Acy and JV improved a ton from the start of the season…..can you say the same for Ross.

      • Terrence Ross in my opinion should stay. It would be much better to trade DeMar DeRozan for a less-than-ideal return than what you could get for Ross. I like DeRozan’s approach to the game, but Ross is on a rookie-scale deal, which means cost-frendliness, and is a better shooting guard prospect than DeRozan was when he came out of USC four years ago. Superior lateral quickness, more explosive, blow-by first step, better shooting talent and with upside, and more defensive potential. The key to Ross will be a high work ethic, in the weight room, on the court, and in the film room. If Ross doesn’t develop when his rookie deal expires, then move on. If he does, then I will have told you so right here. The one move that would be a mistake would be to trade Ross because you don’t believe in his upside. Best case would be he doesn’t pan out to the value you get for him. Worst case, he puts it all together on his new team and breaks out as a good or decent scorer with great defence. Either way, you’d have to keep DeRozan, but if he pans out to be a steal, then you will regret moving him for years to come.

      • Think about Nazem Kadri and how many Toronto fans were ready to move on from him at this time last year.

  3. BC made so many mistakes, this is like Obama taking over for G.W.Bush….arent most TAX teams in the playoffs?

    I didnt like the derozan contract from the beginning, and still think he is overpaid now. At least he moved Calderon’s contract but inherited Gay’s contract, so no deuce there. I am sure these guys have a plan….I think this summer will be very very interesting in Raptorland….

    • “Aren’t most tax teams in the playoffs?”

      In 2012/13, out of the top 16 teams by payroll, only Toronto, Orlando, and Detroit didn’t make the playoffs. That’s the level of dysfunction we’ve had here. (Memphis and Indiana both spent LESS than the Raptors this past year, and made the conference finals.)

    • I never thought of Calderon as grossly overpaid (unless you’re like me and believe that all NBA players are grossly overpaid) relative to other point guards of his calibre. He has been a 20 PER point guard for the majority of his career. His defense is lackadaisical, yes, but his offense is superb. Still not sure if Lowry is THAT much of an overall upgrade.

  4. This team feels like an expansion team again.

    I hope for good things to come.

  5. I don’t get the whole Ross and Val bit. Val has clearly performed well enough to make him one of the top 10 first year centers of the past decade statistically.

    Ross, on the other hand, could still easily be a bust. He certainly didn’t seem to be showing much, if any, improvement as the season wore on. Perhaps this is on Casey as much as on Ross, but I’m still unimpressed so far. That said, I really, really want him to succeed with the Raptors. I just hope he doesn’t take as long as DeMar to become ‘serviceable’ as a player.

    What the team really needs is consistent 3 point shooting. Almost unbelievably considering his first seasons in the league, DeMar might have to be the guy to step up at it next season. Ross is still no threat to take it to the rim, so everyone plays him close, Rudy only seems to want to take it half way to the rim and fire off a bad shot in a crowd, so he isn’t going to be the guy. Lowry should have been the guy last season, but wasn’t for some personal/coaching reason. AA and JLIII are just too chuck happy when they get their minutes, so their averages suffer. Did Fields even make a 3 last season? I remember lots of air ball threes from him…

  6. a shout out! …Ill take it – It’s all good we are all just huge Raptors fans at the end of the day…besides this is your basic (facts) reporting and Dougie can handle that, he’s still a producing vet and aging pro in the industry with a clumsy and laughable but lovable appeal – it’s the “inside info” accuracy before its fact and self prediction reporting, he struggles with!…but I digress; glad to see things moving forward in Raptor land.

  7. The front office changes are nice to see, even if they’re symbolic but like you said, Ujiri will ultimately earn his salary on trying to improve a roster that seems nearly impossible to improve/tinker with.

    • I wouldn’t say ‘nearly impossible.’ For starters, he could amnesty Bargnani and trade LK’s expiring contract. We just don’t know how MLSE feels about paying over $20 million in salary to a guy, regardless of the fact that it frees up cap space. There are options here and it’s not all doom n gloom. We should be optimistic about the next couple years.

      • We should be optimistic, but that word is not in PBI’s vocabulary. BC is gone, most of the front office is gone, Bargnani will be gone…and this is just the beginning….. yet PBI still isn’t happy. Poor guy.

        • I just don’t want my optimism to be completely baseless like yours. You were optimistic about an organizational structure/core that lead to a 5 year playoff drought and an incredibly low team ceiling.

          Getting rid of Bargnani/Kleiza is the easy part, what he does past the obvious moves that he has to make right off the bat is what he should be judged on and given the current lack of resources of the team, there is no reason to be overly optimistic until further notice.

          • Agree with PBI 100%. Sly and the rose coloured glasses posters must be like 12 years old and only started watching the raptors recently. Raptors have not given any reason to be optimistic over the last 5 seasons. Getting ujiri is a start, but i want to see primo and dd gone before i can say progress has been made.

          • Rose-coloured glasses? You sad sap complainers are unbelievable. I haven’t been a fan for long? Who are you to assume shit like that? I’ve been through the few highs and many lows with this franchise and this is the first time since we had Vince that I’ve been optimistic. I never thought the team was going anywhere with Bosh or Bargnani cause they just weren’t that good, as much as Colangelo tried to sell it. This is different, we have some good young players and maybe even a legit stud in JV. Gay and especially Derozan aren’t nearly as bad as some of you on here say. And even if one of them were to be traded, they could bring back value and fill a need for this team (starting PF, PG, 3 pt shooting, draft picks, etc).

            I’m optimistic cause Bosh is gone, Colangelo is not in control of the roster anymore and all signs point to the fact that Bargnani will be traded or amnestied. Getting rid of AB’s contract alone would free up almost $10 mil in cap space. Like I said above, it just depends on if MLSE wants to pay up the dough.

            All I stated in my original post was that it’s ridiculous to call this team almost impossible to do anything with. Changes are being made and you guys are still bitching n complaining, it’s not gonna happen overnight. Yes I’m aware we’ve heard this all before but what other options are there? No point wasting your time being a Debbie downer and all miserable. It’s summer, cheer the fuck up!

          • @ duke

            Believe me, watching this team the last 5 seasons would sap the optimism out of the most optimiistic soul. I dont know how long you have been a fan for but I find it hard to believe that any rational person who has followed this team the last 5 seasons or more can just ignore every red flag and just say ” We have good players, things will turn around on its own”. A lot of work needs to be done. I think 3 players can start on contending teams: Lowry, gay, jv. The rest are role players of varying degrees. Im not nearly as high on dd as other posters on this forum are. In my eyes, he was coddled liked primo and fed minues which he did not earn. Overall, he is a mediocre player and does one thing relatively well (score) and doesnt impact the game in any other way. They dont need him as they already have a very rich mans version of dd in gay. If dd was as good as you say he is, this teams record would be much better than it is.

          • @PBI
            “no reason to be overly optimistic until further notice”
            You sound like such a tool. What about just optimistic? Do you need a notice for that too? LOL
            How is my optimism baseless? A great new GM, Calderone gone, Bargnani will be gone, JV, new players via trades and draft…. I’ve been a fan for more than 5 years btw, and I’m not gonna sit here and dwell on what went wrong or what could have been. The truth is you’re still a fan PBI….. you’re still supporting this team. We are in June and you’re still following raptors news everyday. You say we settle for mediocrity…How the fuck is cheering for my and team and wanting them to succeed “settling for mediocrity”? I feel like this team is starting a new chapter and I’m looking forward to it….that’s it that’s all. You must be miserable to be around dude because all you’re doing is living in the past man….keep dwelling on past mistakes this franchise has made, it will help you enjoy seasons to come. Bahahahaha

          • @ AD

            “I think 3 players can start on contending teams: Lowry, gay, jv”

            Considering there are only 5 players on the court, I’d say that’s pretty damb good. (also considering the other two players on the court at the moment would be DD and Johnson) DD is better than you say he is and he hasn’t hit his ceiling yet. I would trade one of either DD or Gay. Look at what Memphis got for Gay. If we could get his ridiculous contract off the books and get a few impact players in return, I’d be fine with keeping DD.

          • well said, Duke, well said.

            if you can’t enjoy the promise of a new era, you are going to have a very depressing life. the fact is that finally, after years and years, things are starting to move in the right direction. is success certain? no. but things look way more promising than they did a month ago.

  8. Apparently mediocrity isn’t okay. Who knew.

  9. Since none of us really have a clue what Massai is going to do, and we are playing GM – I would love to see Masai get Jennings some how…I know I’m totally dreamin’ here but if a Lowry and Bargnani going to the Bucks on a sign and trade for Jennings and Dalembert were on the table (I would take Jennings straight up – I’ve wanted Jennings here since his draft day) I would hope Masai would do it in a heart beat. And while I’m dreamin’ – we land Collison as a back up PG with the mid level and this team is now shaping up. Still need a starting PF (IMO) – Trade Ross and Klieza’s expiring contract for a starting PF? keeping Johnson as a super sub, makes this team tougher and deeper…..Jennings/DD/Gay/JV/? with Johnson, Collison, Acy, Dalembert and Fields as key back ups…On a serious note: I think Fields will have a decent season next year same with Acy – knowing there roles, giving important effective minutes off the bench, just a personal prediction.

  10. heartbeat – 1 word

    I agree that Jennings would be an upgrade over Lowry, but you’re right, you are dreaming. Please stop playing GM, it’s really annoying. Talk about potential trades when you hear rumours. Go outside, get some fresh air.

  11. Next move should be to change their lame ass team name. At least Disney stood to profit with associating there team with their Mighty Ducks movies. Toronto just jumped on the mid 90s dino/Jurrasic Park craze. The way the team has been run they should just throw a jersey on Barney as an homage to how much better a 4 year old could have ran things.

    • I don’t believe name change is of any necessity of benefit. There aren’t many better, unique names out there and none that I would dump Raptors for. Forget the movie, think about the reptile. It’s mean-looking and predatory, which is what you want. You can change the name and outward appearance of something, but it’s internal setup is the core of what it is, otherwise that thing whose tarnish you masked with gold plating and bells and whistles will show its same tarnish again. Read my reply to SR in the Ujiri press conference thoughts post.

  12. No need to be rude, Sly. You are the one who needs some fresh air. If it annoys you when someone speculates about roster moves, here is a tip…don’t read the post. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and, quite frankly, nobody appointed you blog cop.

    As for roster speculation, i am all for it. A brand spanking new GM, a fresh era after years and years of stale incompetence, imminent moves to shake up the team…this is an exciting time to be raps fan. and dreaming can be more fun than reality.

    • I agree with you CC. Although when it comes to youngjames, I have every right and intention to be rude with him. Have you seen the way he talks to ppl on here? Last time I checked, no one appointed you blog cop either, but that’s exactly what you’re tring to do here. No one is pointing a gun to your head, so you don’t have to read my posts either. Have a nice day.

  13. Change the name to Huskies! Wear blue and white!

  14. Toronto should only keep DeRozan/SG, Ross/SG, Valanciunas/C and JohnsonPF.
    Everybody else is expendable via trade.
    Fields, Gay, Gray, Kleiza and Bargnani

    Buying a top 13 draft pick for cash and trading the above options/chips for another pick in the top 15 is important.
    With the possibility of trading our chips in a sign and trade with free agents.
    below are free agents to go out and get.
    A.Jefferson/PF
    A.F.Aminu/SF
    C.Budinger/SG-SF
    D.Harris/PG

    If successful in getting one or two draft picks. The following players is whom to target.
    M.Carter-Williams/PG
    G.Dieng/C

    If all comes together the team could look like this as follows:
    A.Jefferson/PF
    A.F.Aminu/SF
    G.Dieng/C
    D.DeRozan/SG
    Carter-Williams/PG

    All important secon unit:
    A.Johnson/PF
    J.Valanciunas/C
    C.Budinger/SF
    T.Ros/SG
    D.Harris/PG

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