Toronto Raptors of Canada basketball club president and firmer Nigerian national team player, Masai Ujiri has shed light on the prospects of the former champions of USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA) league keeping a hold on one of their top stars, Fred VanVleet.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that, while many fans and analysts of the NBA believe Toronto could lose the point guard in the off-season, Ujiri insists keeping VanVleet is a big-time priority for him and the team, hence his curt declaration that they aim to see him sign a new deal in the coming days.
He admitted VanVleet will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and, though he also has his own contract situation to think about, Ujiri stressed that he is eager to pull through a new deal for the player, who averaged 18 points and seven assists for The Raptors in 2019/20.
Ujiri, who has one year left on his contract, admitted as well that he is yet to hold any talks with The Raptors ’ owners, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment since the club’s title defence ended in the conference semi-finals, but he spoke at length on the matter during his season-ending news conference.
The Nigerian ex-international recounted that his feelings were still raw coming out of the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where The Raptors lost to Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, but affirmed that his priority remains in keeping all his players happy and taking care of his leadership team.
He pointed out that it was one of the reasons why the club signed their coach, Nick Nurse to a multi-year contract extension, as the tactician’s deal was due to run out after next season, and Ujiri added that they are now close to signing general manager, Bobby Webster to an extension.
The England-born former player also spoke about his involvement in a legal dispute with a law enforcement officer, who allegedly threw a racial slur at him after The Raptors won last year’s NBA Finals in Oakland, California.
Ujiri cited a video that has been presented as part of a counter suit filed late last month by his legal team, showing an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy shoving him before apparently insulting him, and The Raptors’ top shot posited: “This was very hard for me… when this video came out; I didn’t sleep for a few days. I really struggled in the bubble, thinking of all of this.”