[ESPN] - Had Presti been able to strike a deal for George with the Raptors — and Leonard was willing to stay — George was believed to be willing to join the Raptors too, sources said. Presti pursued a package of Russell Westbrookwith George to the Raptors — with the NBA’s Most Improved Player, forward Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece of a deal — and Ujiri balked, league sources said. Ujiri had delivered Leonard everything that he wanted in a franchise: Leadership and trust, championship talent and a medical partnership that preserved and prepared his body. What Ujiri couldn’t give Leonard was out of his control: Geography, weather, and a chance to return to his Southern California roots.
Alright, I know Masai Ujiri has gotten close to the no matter what move he makes you feel confident in category. But, uh, what the shit? He passed on a deal for Paul George and Russ because he didn’t want to give up Pascal Siakam?!?
This Pascal Siakam
A good, encouraging young player for sure. You don’t win Most Improved Player without that. But, passing on keeping Kawhi – who won you a title AND gaining Paul George and Russ? Yeah, that seems crazy. Now, I’m sure there were a bunch draft picks involved, but if you can lock these three up for the next 3-4 years and be a title favorite for at least 2 of those? Yeah, you do that.
Perhaps it’s just me being ‘take the titles and run’ mindset, but it’s something I don’t even think twice about. We saw the Raptors power move pay off this past year. Why not run it back for another 3? Especially with the league being WIDE OPEN this coming year. I guess Ujiri doesn’t want to put himself in a position where he has no flexibility, but I’ll take the title runs.
This is easily one of those that will be a ‘what-if’ in NBA history no matter what happens. Sorry, Toronto. Sorry, plant guy.
UPDATED: Apparently this was all a game of chicken by the Raptors? I’m not buying it: