This week on The Doctor is In with Phdsteve, the Raptors have finally introduced their new President of Basketball Operations and GM Massai Ujiri to the Toronto media and fans- and the response is overwhelmingly positive.  Fans and media alike are in love with their new GM…but not me.  Am I being crazy?  Why am I not drinking the Massai Kool-Aid?  To unpack the presser and to gain some perspective on the hiring of Ujiri I’ve assembled the round table!! Joined by my brother Mike (who knows college basketball) live from the streets of Nigeria, Greg Mason (the brain from the south) from the State of Florida, and The Fifth Quarter Blog’s Blair Miller, we discuss:

  • Massai Ujiri- good hire?
  • What about his press conference- should we be encouraged or discouraged by his vaugue answers?
  • Why is Colangelo still in Toronto- and does Tim Leiweke really have complete control?
  • Who are Larry, Roger, and Bell and why are they still involved in the decision making processif Leiweke has complete control?
  • What does Massai’s new vision and culture look like?
  • And why must we wait for him to assemble his staff before we get any answers!

Lastly, we preview the NBA Finals and make our picks in a surprisingly feisty and divided Miami vs San Antonio debate.

Don’t forget to visit Blair’s site The Fifth Quarter Blog, and follow him on Twitter at @TFQuarter

Grab the iTunes feed or the plain old feed. You can also download the file (35:46, 34 MB). Or just listen below:

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  • Marz

    Leiweke does have complete control, but the bottom line will always be the number one. The only reason you’d want a championship is to improve your bottom line.

    Also, all this talk of “identity” means absolutely nothing to me. There is no definition of identity or culture as it relates to basketball, it’s just a marketing term (much like organic growth).

    If you ask me, we already have an identity and culture: our team is laid-back and humourful (is that a word?). Certainly, we have hard workers, but there is no one player that commands a certain level of seriousness. Players like KG, Chauncy Billups, or even Andre Miller. Our culture is a bunch of young, athletic players that work hard and joke around often. And that’s fine with me, they’re still maturing. But the implication that we don’t currently have an identity/culture is just another gimmick.

  • Tom

    Its pretty annoying to hear through out the podcast that Lieweke, Masai, etc was trying to sell the fans and con them or job them into some corporate sell job. How is it different than any other team when they talk to their fans? what do you expect to hear?!

    ” Yeah your right, this guy sucks, we are gonna gut the team, yeah Casey is a lame duck coach he will be gone soon, this player’s contract is horrible, Im gonna build my team like the Spurs. Here is every specific thing I am going to do”

    It’s the actions that is gonna put this team where its at and that’s where this management should be judged. You guys went too much into what they said, what words they used and didn’t.

    Pretty annoying podcast

    • Dr. Scooby

      To an extent, I agree with Tom. in that I found the podcast tone sounded like a McCarthy witch hunt complete with conspiracies lurking around every spoken and unspoken word. I took the press conference to be a “Hi, FYI I’m the new GM of the Toronto Raptors” – and nothing more. Sure I would have been pleased to hear a team game plan going forward, but this was not the venue, nor should it have been at this point.My outlook is – its not a problem until its a problem, and besides Masai says “patience”…

    • ItsAboutFun

      I wish I had read your comments before I wasted about 20 minutes of my time on that. I expected this kind of senseless stuff to come out before long, but not this soon. Is this really what it’s going to be like? Unless he exposes all his thoughts and plans to us,,,,,, and all the other GMs that he’s going to try and win deals with, he’s going to be lambasted for spin doctoring????

      • Milesboyer

        Exactly. People need to get a life – I understand newspaper columnists have to make up shiit so they can have something to write about but this is ridiculous. And why in god’s name is it so hard to fathom that Colangelo could actually be useful to this organization in some other capacity other than GM. If nothing else BC has shown he’s a man of integrity and maturity – he’s not all of the sudden going to start sabotaging management because he didn’t get what he wanted.

  • Bendit

    Someone mentioned that the presser was a waste because Masai’s position was to assemble his new org., have a group evaluation of the state of the team, come up with a plan of action…and then let the scribes in on the details. Actually, he said his actions in due time would speak to his direction. I suppose alternatively everyone including PHd would have been mum if the new GM had not been introduced? Does this make sense? Should a GM in his first days on the job lay his cards out for opposing GMs to see, throw personnel into turmoil, devalue the team’s assets and possibly close off options by prejudging other assets without a thorough vetting of local content? I can hear the subsequent podcasts!!

  • HogyG

    I sat listening to the short sighted view of Phdsteve, in regards to the opening days of the Ujiri Era and his first impressions of his debut press conference and couldn’t help but disagree with it outright. Your take in his very short time with us is a perfect example of the problem we have in the Raptors fan culture in general. Am I wrong, or was that his first official day of work?

    I’m not sure how many first days of work you’ve had in your life, but before you went in for an interview to get that job (like Ujiri did) I can imagine that you may have done some research on the company. In the days and weeks after you got the job, when you started meeting your co-workers, did your perception of the job and company’s global direction change from what you believed from your initial research? Now, try to consider being grilled by reporters during your first day about the future handling of your newly acquired position. Now imagine that you came in to run that business…Most people would end up putting their foot int heir mouth at some point during the “interrogation”. I’m sure you wouldn’t though, I’m sure you would be as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce…and that would make two of you, along side Ujiri.

    You see, any good leader knows you gather your intel, take inventory of assets and personnel, sit with your subordinates and take in their input on all the positives and negatives from their perspective from actually being in the trenches before you devise a proper plan to move forward. You don’t want to be the boss on their first day who says “We’re gonna have the company softball team win the championship this year!” only to find out that the company has no softball team.

    Ujiri was smart enough to know how fickle the media is in Toronto and around the Raptors in general, and smartly didn’t want to be on the record and held to something he’ll later regret before he has a chance to speak with the remaining staff (Casey), hire new scouts and staff to fill out the staff he’s already cleared out, evaluate the talent we have as well as the talent that is available during the off season before committing to saying “We are going do this…(insert properly measured and calculated move here)”.

    Instead you want him to come out on his first official day and say “I am going to do this…(insert the first thing that comes to mind)”.

    There were many subtle things he did say. To use one example, when talking of evaluating the talent on our team he was asked about his thoughts on using analytics, where he replied that to look at the numbers of a player in various scenarios is an effective tool, but he’s looking for what’s in here (tapping his heart), that he’s looking for players who have a “kick butt” mentality. IMO that is a great image of what he’s looking for and what he may be willing to release from our team.

    Also, am I wrong or is a GM currently not allowed to talk about direct acquisitions or departures from the team until July 1, after the post season has concluded? That would make for another great reason he hasn’t mentioned any specifics, Perhaps there are staff in other organizations who will be making the move or needs to wait to be negotiated with (just possible scenarios I’m pulling out of the blue as I type this) asking a teams permission to speak with a staff member will undoubtedly drive up the asking price of that individual.

    We paid Ujiri the big bucks to sit at this poker table and to shrewdly use our chips, and choose to put it in on winning hands. Poker is a game of patience, you just can’t throw all your chips on the first decent hand that pops up, you keep a poker face,keep people guessing and get aggressive when you feel the pot is yours for the taking. Maybe we have a guy who wants to slow-play his hand, but it’s better then the last guy who went all in pre-flop anytime he got two face cards.

    • WhiteVegas

      Well done post. In addition to what you said, Ujiri also said “the back of our roster has to be young guys that we can continue to grow.” So that is one trend that he will continue from his time in Denver, where almost every position has a young developing player at the 2nd/3rd string. As opposed to declining veterans like Lucas, Telfair, Pietrus, Anderson, Kleiza…. I’m not shitting on veterans, but you need to sign good veterans. I actually like Gray, but we need another young guy developing behind him. That’s why it sucks that we have no picks this year, and already gave away our 2014 2nd rounder for freaking Sebastian Telfair. I think that means we’ll move a couple of guys for draft picks or guys on rookie deals to get the roster balance Ujiri wants.

    • Statement

      “Poker is a game of patience, you just can’t throw all your chips on the first decent hand that pops up”

      You can if you are Colangelo.
      With respect to basketball, I find PhD Steve to be off in general.

      • jjdynomite

        Great post HogyG — I agree with you 100% on Ujiri’s presence; in the presser he carried himself very well for someone with grassroots-based knowledge and was in stark contrast to the Ivy League corporate whore-speak of BryCo. And speaking of higher learning, I agree with you and Statement on PhD Steve in general; maybe I should change my screen name to MasterOfScienceJJDynomite in a feeble attempt to earn some vaporware cred with the basketball analytic blogosphere. Sigh.

    • Guy

      You’re missing the point. Rational, measured thinking like you expressed with your post, would prevent some of the Mods on this site from whining, criticizing & doing their best to cast a shadow over everything.

      Ujiri could have come out and provided the winning numbers for the next 6/49 draw & someone would have written an article complaining the jackpot wasn’t big enough or that we should be suspicious of his motives for supplying the numbers.

    • KaioKev

      Excellent post! Terrible podcast. Give the guy a break, he just started!!!

  • raptors phdsteve

    Here’s the thing: I can understand why most of you feel the way you do- and Im ok with that. I expected your comments after posting this podcast: mostly because just about everybody is on board with this hire. All of the other guys on the roundtable called me out and offline had much harsher things to say. BUT- that doesnt mean that I have to agree with you or else I’m an idiot. We are allowed to have dissenting opinions on everything to do with this team from: whether or not fans should be able to boo- all the way to – what do you think about Bargnani! Its the differing opinions that makes this site so great! All the writers and for the most part all of the readers tend to fall into multiple camps when it comes to being a Raptors fan and thats why the discussions on here are always so lively- and that’s what makes this one of the best sites around.

    To the people who feel that they had 30 minutes wasted by my nonsense (not including the time they wasted to post their opinion on their time being wasted) I am truly sorry you feel that way- but its only a podcast- so get over it. Its is supposed to entertain you and when it can- provide some insight. Instead of being angry, what you should be is thankful that anybody takes the time to continue to write, post, podcast, etc material for you to read, listen to etc. regarding this team day after day, year after year, in spite of the story always being the same: the team sucks, the management lies, and the fans continue to drink the koolaid and bash anyone who dares to speak out and think differently. see you next Tuesday.


    • Timo J. Vainionpää

      I do enjoy your posts and podcasts, even when I dont agree with the opinions.. thanks for putting it out there..

    • RedEyedJedi

      Interesting idea on the sell job by the three stooges. I could definitely see this being the case but we won’t have any idea until we see Ujiri’s first few moves. BC gets a new job out of the spot light as a retirement of sorts and bring in Ujiri to be the new puppet. I think most Raptors fans at this point are just so happy that BC is gone that Masai looks more like Messiah regardless of his credentials. Personally I’m holding off my excitement until Ujiri has his staff and we have some idea what direction the team will pursue. Hopefully he makes good on the pudding but until then I remain cautiously optimistic.

      On a side note I have enjoyed his personality and demeanor during his presser and Matty D interview. Seems like a class act…. Makes me hope hes not the puppet and really does have control.

    • ItsAboutFun

      Since I’m the only one that said anything about wasted time, and some comments are directed at “the people who feel that”, I guess it’s okay to respond.

      First, the beginning paragraph states “BUT- that doesnt mean that I have to agree with you or else I’m an idiot.”. I don’t think anybody said anything of the kind, so perhaps your listening to “old stories” floating around in your mind, as in what some psychologists refer to as baggage. In my own case, referring to what you said as “senseless” (with some supporting reasoning), is an opinion of what you said, not you as a person. No such childish name calling insults were thrown out by anybody.

      To the second paragraph, seemingly directed at moi, the only post speaking to wasted time:

      The “get over it” response seems to be coming from yet more “old stories”. Dude, it was one time commentary, said once and forgotten. If you’re going to have a fit about it, at least try and have a comeback that makes sense.

      “Instead of being angry”… huh? where is there anger expressed in my, or any other comment to date?

      Dude, your entire rant is directed at stuff that nobody has written. My little snark aside, and a couple of others (c’mon, you’re a big boy aren’t you?), there’s actually some very intelligent comments that people took the time to write very well, but you’re not addressing a single one of them. If those are the ones you’re “hearing” this idiot tag your imagining, that’s on you, because nobody used such language, simply pointed out how misguided some of your opinions were.

      Peace, I hope we both find it.

    • Tom

      Steve, your podcast sounded like a very frustrated raptor fan, as I am, as many people are. Another GM, another rebuild, no guarantee. Don’t take it too personal and keep at it

      • HogyG

        Yes it’s true the only guarantees in life are death and bad calls for the Raptors, heh.

        But seriously, I have been a fan since their beginning, I have owned season tickets, I am witness to every game of each year and see these injustices we all like to speak of (whether it be from the referees or our management’s past attempts at fielding a competitive team at times…anyone else still remember choosing Haffa @ 8 over Iguodala @ 9 …or Al Jefferson @ 15 …or Josh Smith @ 17. ugh.) I bleed Raptors basketball and give my heart and soul to them every year and have their back through THICK and THIN…

        That last bit is something that can get confused sometimes or be referred to by some as “fans who drink the koolaid…” (I’m really not trying to pick on you PHD Steve, but your statement sparked a thought in me)

        You see, I’ve been a fan of the NBA since before there was a team in the T-Dot. As anyone who lived in Canada and was a basketball fan during those days will attest to, there was a SERIOUS lack of coverage on anything NBA related other than the box scores presented as an afterthought on the morning news. There were no sports specialty channels in Canada until TSN came along in 1984, and even then, that mostly served to increase the hockey coverage across the nation. Often, the first televised game of the year you could count on to catch was the all star game (that’s over 50 games into the season!) and afterwards NBC would start showing the odd Sunday game to build interest for the playoffs. To enjoy coverage of 15 games throughout the regular season was a challenge for any Canadian basketball fan without a satellite dish (and those were the kind that were 6 feet wide!).

        My long winded point is that I don’t know how many times I prayed to the basketball gods back then to give Canada a team, and would dream at night about watching ALL 82 regular season games for a team in my area… and then, it happened!

        …and close enough to go and enjoy in person (my sympathies to those who live too far away to enjoy this wonderful privilege). So in any given season, if the Raptors put out a sub-par team for us to cheer on I still did, because they always felt like MY team and without them (and the Griz) we’d still be watching nothing but hockey in this country and griping about it without any front teeth. Some may take this for granted today but believe me others do not.

        It’s because of this more than anything else, that really gets me irked when people complain about the team and can only seem to embrace the negative aspects, and somehow only see the team having the same ol’ stories that, “the team sucks, the management lies, and the fans continue to drink the koolaid…”.

        Let the record show that Jim Jones (aka BC) is no longer in control of this flock. For the moment it is safe to drink the koolaid once again. Maybe our new leader will mix poison into the cups too, but for now we should embrace the chance for a new beginning and hope for the best. I mean, it’s not as if we chose some writer with his head up his ass as our new GM (Yes, that is a cheap shot, try not to flop while taking it as I wouldn’t want to see a fine be handed out to a fellow Raptors fan… and before any of you commit a flagrant foul of your own to retaliate, considering the words of PHD Steve and “get over it” cause I’m just playing around), I’m not calling for blind faith by all who come to worship, but just because Ujiri won executive of the year and came to our organization instead of being picked up by his former team does not make him the same person as BC with the same plans/agenda. We need to give him a chance to fail (if you’re pro negativity) before we chastise his presence, choices and abilities. And if he does fails us then by all means bring out your torches and pitch forks, and I’ll help you round him up.

        I understand the frustrated fans out there, I am one of them and we have reason to be. But, for whatever it’s worth, these moments here should be a time of celebration as finally there’s a chance for a change. That’s not something that has had a real chance to happen for the last few years. There are no guarantees that things will improve, but it sounds and feels like a change is coming, and with change can come new hope. I think as Raptor fans it’s time to embrace that for a while.

    • Tee

      well said

    • Bendit

      To use a wellworn refrain in the sports communicating arena…”C’mon man”. I believe most all appreciate the work you and your comrades put in trying to inform and entertain. I do. For myself, this had all to do with the very specific and might I say inexplicable need for you and many in the msm gathered at the presser to want to be informed about Masai’s immediate plans to change turd to chocolate cake. And this on his intro day in TO. As one who has similarly “suffered” through the travails of this franchise over the last decade plus I am jaded too. My misunderstanding of flamethrowers at this time is: what does Leiweke or Masai have to do with ownership or leadership of the basketball management of the past. Lets not have a parade without any results but are Leiweke or Masai coming in to their new responsibilities blindfolded or handcuffed? I get the impression they are unfettered. It seemed you were already suspicious. The point is did you make the case? You were just going by the historical record.

      You were prescient expecting the blowback on the podcast. Your negativity was unnecessary. This was a “get to know/meet me” presser not a “I am here to explain my evaluation of the team and plans for short/long term future of the Raptors”. Lets give the man some space please.

    • Amigo

      Thank you for your crap as usual. I love on my spare time check all the BS written on Raptorsrepublic. Mine as well. Then you need to separate the gurus,who truly have knowledge on Basketball and life overall. like Tim W. and the others, of course.

  • golden

    I am completely unaffected by Leiweke or Ujiri hirings and these press conferences. Color me jaded, but I think jade is appropriate the color of the long-time Raptors fan that has seen this franchise consistently dominate the press-conference and off-season circuits, from Isiah to Grunwald to BC and Leiweke/Ujiri, while consistently underwhelming on the court. We are becoming like the old Knicks, where our press conferences and management moves generate increasingly higher levels of excitement in the media and the fanbase, only to be disappointed time and time again by the performance of the team and the character of the players. Yes, it’s probably a good thing that the spend-happy BC is gone (uh, sort of gone…) along with some long-time scouts and redundant GM assistants (Maurizio, Stefanski, etc…) that I have no idea what they do anyway. But, unfortunately at this point, the new front office is inheriting a massive credibility problem that can only be rectified by play. I used to be a season ticket holder, and now I barely watch the games live on TV. Tim and Masai, you guys are getting big bucks to win back the passion of people like me. Good luck.

  • Joshua642

    The fact he got rid of the staff shows he’s his own man.

    The first choice was Phil Jackson.

    The idea is to get the best. That fact you aren’t willing to get

    the best available because of his past associations

    shows your limitations.

    Second of all to trade successful one doesn’t show one’s hand.

    By naming players (which you suggest) means showing his hand.


    His strength is patience. The Melo deal shows that. No other GM

    would’ve got such pieces from a very difficult situation.