Last summer, Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri took a huge gamble when he traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. The move earned plenty of criticism from fans who believed that the Raptors swapped their most loyal player for a possible one-year rental. Though Leonard really ended up leaving the Raptors after the 2018-19 NBA season, he helped them win their first NBA championship.
The Raptors are still left with the core of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol, but without the best player of their championship squad, it remains a big question mark if they have what it takes to bring home their second Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, according to Andray Domise of Maclean’s, everything will be all right for the Raptors as long as they have Ujiri running the front office.
After Kawhi Leonard left Toronto for his hometown team, the Los Angeles Clippers, in the 2019 NBA free agency period, Masai Ujiri appears to have started making plans of building a roster that will give them a strong chance of winning another NBA championship. As Maclean‘s noted, one of the NBA superstars that Ujiri could target to lead his next championship squad is Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Giannis Antetokounmpo (whose surname is pronounced ah-deh-toe-KOON-bo) is arguably the next-best two way player in the league behind Kawhi Leonard, and he comes by his “Greek Freak” moniker honestly. He’s nearly unguardable in the paint, and pulls down rebounds on either side of the court like they’re his birthright. He creates plays with the efficiency of a point guard, and lately has been improving his three-point shot to a level that’s rare among players of his nearly seven-foot frame. Antetokounmpo’s contract with Milwaukee ends after the upcoming season, and if the Raptors manage to snag him in free agency, another championship for this team is not out of the question.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo used to share a pair of shoes with his brother as a kid.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 12, 2019
Antetokounmpo is currently considered as one of the best active players in the NBA. Last season, the 24-year-old power forward won his first Most Valuable Player award after averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals on 57.8 percent shooting from the field and 25.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Antetokounmpo will be eligible to sign a massive contract extension with the Bucks next summer but if he decides to test the free agency market in the 2021 NBA offseason, several NBA teams are expected to express strong interest in acquiring him, including the Raptors.
Giannis Antetokounmpo built a good relationship with Masai Ujiri even before he set foot in the NBA. Ujiri helped Antetokounmpo and his family migrate from Nigeria to Greece to start the reigning MVP on his path to NBA greatness. Once he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent, Ujiri will surely do everything he can to bring Antetokounmpo to Toronto.