Masai Ujiri of the Raptors: “I have a great relationship with Kawhi”


These are the strange periods without sport in which we live that many of the sports writings we see these days are speculative.

Well, here’s a “What if” scenario for you: What if Kawhi Leonard were to return to the Toronto Raptors?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

But in a recent interview with TNT’s Ernie Johnson on the official NBA Twitter account, Raptors president Masai Ujiri revealed a much deeper relationship with Leonard than many, perhaps, once you thought about it .

In the middle of the big conversation, Ujiri’s son Masai Jr. briefly crushed the party, prompting Johnson to joke: “So it’s the guy who’s going to marry Kawhi Leonard’s daughter someday , is not it? “

Ujiri accepted the joke, but actually revealed a little more about his personal connection with Leonard.

” By the way, [Masai Jr.] was on FaceTime with [Leonrd’s daughter] yesterday, “said Ujiri laughing. ” I’m serious. I have a great relationship with Kawhi, but my wife and Kishele [Shipley, Leonard’s girlfriend] have a really very close relationship and [Masai Jr.] talk to [Leonard’s daughter] sometimes. “

Basketball is a business that often hinders building and maintaining relationships, but it looks like Ujiri has managed to keep a strong bond with Leonard and his family, even though Leonard decided to go free agency last summer.

“I always say that the two most difficult things in our business are trading a player and then when a player leaves,” said Ujiri. “It’s hard on both sides. Like when a player swaps, it’s hard on the player’s side and when a player leaves it hard on that side.

“I have lived it all and it is with great people. And that sometimes limits relationships as we have seen with DeMar and – people don’t know – but even with Rudy Gay because I was close to Rudy. You are trying to preach a culture of good, of trust, of being with people. And then you have to make these decisions.

“With Kawhi, we have just built a relationship where we trust each other and this friendship has evolved even more as he left and I am proud of it. I support him with everything he does as a human being and with his family and you continue. You just have to move on and move on to the next one. “

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Could this “neighbor” be a meeting with Leonard?

After this season – when / if it resumes – Leonard’s contract numbers will expire next summer as he has a player option for the 2021-2022 season.

It may seem unrealistic now to think that Leonard would like to leave his home country and a good Los Angeles Clippers team after only two seasons – especially after he seemed to be making tons of efforts to finally land in LA – but many things can happen between now and summer 2021 in the crazy world of the NBA player movement.

If Leonard then became a free agent and, for whatever reason, sought a change of scenery, this cultured Ujiri bond could end up playing a role.

Everything is possible, right?


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