The Toronto Raptors are well aware of the value the fourth pick in the NBA draft holds.
It was just last year that the organization jumped from the seventh spot in the draft lottery to the fourth pick in the draft, allowing the Raptors to nab Scottie Barnes, the NBA’s eventual Rookie of the Year for 2021-22. It was a move that expedited Toronto’s timeline, moving the Raptors from one of the league’s worst teams in 2020-21 to among the Eastern Conference’s best this past season.
Now, the fourth pick in this year’s draft is reportedly in play again with the Sacramento Kings potentially exploring options to trade the pick for “an impact veteran” or “a contributing rotation player,” by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
Would Toronto move Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet for the pick? Should Toronto move one of its two veteran stars for a chance to build around Barnes?
Raptors president and vice-chairman Masai Ujiri has made his stance on this topic very clear. The answer is no.
“I think it’s still a team of the future. I think we have to have patience and grow,” he said during his season-ending media availability. “We still have the patience here to build this team and whatever it takes to get these guys to grow.”
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So does that mean the core will be back next season, a reporter asked Ujiri.
“Correct,” he said.
The Raptors’ playbook has always been the same: grow, develop, and be patient. That’s why the organization hung around for so long, making small tweaks to the roster every season between 2013 to 2018 before eventually pulling off the Kawhi Leonard deal. Yes, there was the so-called “Tampa tank,” as Ujiri put it, last season, but that was almost accidental. Once the season began heading sideways, the Raptors shut things down, opting for a better draft pick than a chance to play in the play-in tournament.
There’s simply no appetite in Toronto for a drawn-out rebuild.
“We are going to make little changes here and there, obviously we have the mid-level exception that we can use and we’ll try to find some flexibility, be it trades, or to add players if that comes about,” Ujiri said . “The core is the core and barring injuries and things that you feel hinder your team along the way, we feel that there is going to be growth internally.”