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Thread: Unplugged: Raptors GM Masai Ujiri

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Default Unplugged: Raptors GM Masai Ujiri

    On working with the brash Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
    ďAs a leader, for me, I love it. What else can he do? Is he supposed to go sit in his office and just manage us? He has to challenge us. He has to challenge the organization and the people that work for him Ö Heís engaging. You just walk into his office and youíre fired up. Thatís just his nature. Itís not something that you see that heís just saying in the paper. He acts it. He treats people that work for him well. We love that.Ē
    On what he expects from the Raptors
    ďThe team has to play. Thatís the plan. The team has to play for us to make an assessment of where we feel they are. What part of the season can [we draw conclusions]? I donít know. I donít know how long it will take. Weíre going to assess every game. Ö I really canít say this team is going to be fourth or seventh or 12th. I canít do that. I want us to have growth, big-time growth, and improvement so that we can actually know what we have on this team. And then we can move from there. Right now I donít think we know what we have? Have guys reached their potential? Have guys reached their peak? Have guys levelled out? Can guys get better? Are guys going to get worse? You have to give them the opportunity now.Ē
    On the similar skill sets of DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay
    ďThey both have parts of their games that I think they have to work on in order to play well with each other. I think theyíve put in the work this summer. Are they similar? Yes. Is it because they take a lot of mid-range jumpers ó I think thatís the perception, or thatís what it is. I think theyíll get better at it. They are young in some ways. What you find with those kinds of players, what weíre saying is wrong with them, you can teach. What they have, you canít teach. Theyíre athletes. Theyíre long. Theyíre agile. I feel that thereís a chance that they can get better. Weíre going to see if this will happen.Ē
    On the role of advanced statistical analysis in team building
    ďItís a great part of the game to know. I think the NBA is trendy. I donít want to say itís the trend now. But thatís the nature of us. I think analytics are a huge part. We have a good department that studies the game that way. I study the game that way. With the NBA, thatís just how it is. One day itís high-school players. The next day itís international players. Another day itís the big three. The next day is analytics. Our job is to find out whatís the next thing that is going to be advantageous to us and contribute to winning.Ē
    http://sports.nationalpost.com/2013/09/27/unplugged/


    Lots of good talking points in here. A few more on the link.
    "You donít know the Bruno Caboclo......"
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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    So much here makes me want to bash my head in frustration if true, yet I also hardly (can't?) believe he is doing anything other than doing the usual executive talk out of the side of their mouth.

    (*very ranty, so be ready)

    Right now I donít think we know what we have? Have guys reached their potential? Have guys reached their peak? Have guys levelled out? Can guys get better? Are guys going to get worse? You have to give them the opportunity now.
    This can't be a serious statement. Isn't the entire job of GM trying to predict? Knowing, reasonably, what they have and knowing, again reasonably, in what time frame that will be? No business executive (atleast one worth their salt) goes into a year or quarter or season, without trying to predict how well their product will sell/do/grow etc.

    Its rather obvious, barring some sort of miracle or catatrosphe, the Raptors are a 6-11 team. Now that range may not be small, but its almost irrelevant no matter where they land in this group.

    Yet I don't believe (or atleast don't want to believe) he doesn't realize this. Is this a 'God damn Colangelo screwed up this roster and I can't do a thing, but I can't tell everyone this' statement? Or a 'try to make others think I'm willing to keep this roster so they hopefully offer more' statement? Or is this a 'MLSE wants me to make the playoffs, and I really have no other choice, so I have to ride this out while hedging my rep' statement? Or is this seriously a 'I have no friggin' idea whats going to happen' statement? If it is the last one, he should be fired immediately. Yes I said it - IF he really doesn't know, that is not a sign of a quality or skilled leader and he should be replaced.

    ---------

    I feel that thereís a chance that they can get better. Weíre going to see if this will happen.Ē
    Our job is to find out whatís the next thing that is going to be advantageous to us and contribute to winning.
    is the next big thing crossing fingers, since there is a 'chance' something can happen, and hoping it takes place?


    --------

    We have a good department that studies the game that way. I study the game that way

    so, since the team has a good analytics department and Masai studies the game that way. What do these good analytics say about 1) the team 2) how well they except the team to do 3) how likely that is to lead to long term results?

    If the analytics say 'I don't know' like Masai is claiming to think, then the analytics department is probably not very good at all. If they are saying something (good or bad), why the hell is Masai saying 'I don't know'?? This is so completely counter intuitive its ridiculous.

    Either the analytics available to the team suck or Masai doesn't actually 'study' them and/or believe them.

    ---------

    to make an assessment of where we feel they are
    I study the game that way (using analytics)
    Analytics aren't about 'feeling' - there are about taking that 'feeling' out of the analysis.

    This reminds me so much of Rucker last year - claiming that analytics should be used to fit into what a GM (Colangelo) wanted. That is only true IF the analytics say what the GM wants is actually good idea in the first place otherwise the team is just limiting its potential upside (see building around Bargnani)

    -------

    They (Gay + Demar) are young in some ways. What you find with those kinds of players, what weíre saying is wrong with them, you can teach. What they have, you canít teach. Theyíre athletes. Theyíre long. Theyíre agile. I feel that thereís a chance that they can get better.
    yet the analytics also show us players rarely change much, particularily at their level of experience.

    -------

    So maybe I'm too cycnical, but to be very blunt, this all sounds to Colangelo-ey for my liking. Yes the tone is completely different (over confidence vs lack of surity), but difference is marginal. "I use analytics, analytics are the wave of the future" - but then why are we sitting on such an analytically unfriendly team with analytically unfriendly players and still sitting on a coach that already said he doesn't like analytics and still using an analytical group that has failed with their analytics to date? This was exactly what Colangelo did and said to!

    While Colangelo went about taking alot of actions, but didn't take the actions that were necessary or preferrable (ie. Bargnani/Demar, collecting picks, building long term etc), Masai is taking no action, and given the discussion above, doesn't look like he plans on it or atleast not in a timely fashion. When the problem was the team's core, Colangelo did anything and everything but remove peices from that core. Is that really any different than Masai now? The core is still the same as last season, and the only move was Bargnani who was very clearly no longer part of that core despite Colangelo's best efforts to make him so.

    I'm trying to be optimistic and thinking this is all just talk waiting for a change, yet I can't deny this feels and reads like lipstick on a pig. I hope I'm wrong, but this sure sounds like a team lining up for another year on the treadmill and relying on 'hope' being its saving grace.

    Problem is, hope is not a plan.

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    lol, I was certain an armchair GM rant or 10 was coming like this, but not this soon. I know, it seems crazy that a real GM wants to base his assessments on actual daily viewing and interaction with these players, knowing their character, commitment and work ethic, knowing what's being asked of them, and how they're being managed,,,,,,, and doesn't KNOW, like a pack of amateur fans, exactly what needs to be done, based on a few games, a few videos, and some stats. Craziness! Fire him NOW!!

    I predict MU will burst a few more bubbles before long, as he deals with real life GM duties.

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    This roster has a lot of wild cards in it. We can be sure it's not a Miami-contender (or, at least, almost sure), but there is little different between this team and say, the 76ers team that made the playoffs 2 years ago. Few of our players' value are high right now:

    - Gay: Just had eye surgery, terrible efficiency last season
    - DeRozan: New contract kicks in and has yet to prove he's worth $9.5M/year (i.e. there are enough people thinking he is not worth it)
    - Kyle Lowry: Contract year, could turn into a ball-hog or have the best season of his career
    - Terrence Ross: Poor ending to his rookie season (thanks Casey and Anderson!) followed by an even worse summer league
    - Landry Fields: Coming off surgery after his worst season in his career
    - Et cetera

    Ujiri is waiting and seeing what happens because there are several cases where trade value MAY improve in just a few months. Might as well sell high, right?

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Bendit's Avatar
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    Unplugged indeed! The MU claims of not knowing what he has on the team has to be a load. On the other hand I dont blame him. It buys him time with the potential traders out there and he keeps everyone guessing about true intentions. The only one who probably knows is TL who enunciated within days of arrival and bouncing BC that the team wasnt going anywhere as currently constituted. I assume he came to this conclusion by speaking with some independent basketball minds out there. So, would TL go out and filch MU from Denver and give him a 5 year deal if MU was not of similar mind? My disappointment only is in MU flapping his gums on this subject but I suppose he must render opinions now that the season is upon us and not upset the troops too much....so feign ignorance. Again, patience until Dec-Jan... he already knows what he wants to do...my tea leaves of course.

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote Bendit wrote: View Post
    Unplugged indeed! The MU claims of not knowing what he has on the team has to be a load. On the other hand I dont blame him. It buys him time with the potential traders out there and he keeps everyone guessing about true intentions. The only one who probably knows is TL who enunciated within days of arrival and bouncing BC that the team wasnt going anywhere as currently constituted. I assume he came to this conclusion by speaking with some independent basketball minds out there. So, would TL go out and filch MU from Denver and give him a 5 year deal if MU was not of similar mind? My disappointment only is in MU flapping his gums on this subject but I suppose he must render opinions now that the season is upon us and not upset the troops too much....so feign ignorance. Again, patience until Dec-Jan... he already knows what he wants to do...my tea leaves of course.
    I think he knows what he has individually. I don't think he knows what he has collectively. How will players mesh? How will Casey perform minus the reported meddling from front office? How will the competition fare with their own changes and development?

    The bold I think nails it. I also think TL and MU have been playing the media and, more importantly, other front offices who most likely read or eventually hear about quotes and interviews. They really have covered all the bases in the last 5-6 months:

    1) tear it down,
    2) work with what we have,
    3) wait and see,
    4) you'll know what we are doing by draft night,
    5) more changes coming - just wait,
    6) we're going in to the season as we are,
    7) intentionally tanking is bad karma,
    8) might have to suck before we get better,
    9) tough to build without top 5 pick - possible, but tough,
    10) no expectations for team - could be 4th, 7th, 12th.

    I know they have me capable of arguing from either perspective now - on multiple different levels.
    "You donít know the Bruno Caboclo......"
    Bruno Caboclo

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    Raptors Republic Veteran white men can't jump's Avatar
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    Also it's a preseason interview right before camp. Definitely not the time to expect any GM to outline some grandiose plans, or exactly what he wants to do with his roster, or his timeline. Really, it's just talking to the press because he kind of has to. Especially with a GM like Ujiri, who clearly likes to keep his plans as low-key as possible, so even if he planned on blowing up the roster next week, I don't think his interview would've looked any different. There's really no reason to get riled up or impatient because of it. Talking to the media is a pretty meaningless aspect overall in regards to a GM's performance, and most guys give interviews like this, where they avoid really indicating anything specific about changing course (especially right before training camp), where the best idea is usually to avoid rocking the boat in any way, for the sake of team chemistry, for fan relations, and for maintaining a position of maximum strength going into any potential trade negotiations.

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    Raptors Republic Starter Raptorsss's Avatar
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    You guys try to bash Colangelo, but the people bashing him and Masai, would most likely be just like Colangelo if they were in his position (terrible!). They'd blow the team-up every chance they get, pat themselves on the back and defend their poor draft selections.

    Masai is going into the season with no expectations, so should the fans. He very well might know what he's got, but what he's got can't get him what he wants right now (high 2014 lottery pick, or superstar player.) As fans let's go into the season with no expectations and just cheer on the Raptors (as long as they play hard).

    Masai said he's aiming for 2015 for the team to be competitive let's wait until we get there.
    -"You canít run from me. I mean, my heart donít bleed Kool-Aid."
    -"ďI ainít no diva! I donít have no blond hair, red hair. Iím Reggie Evans.Ē

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote Raptorsss wrote: View Post
    You guys try to bash Colangelo, but the people bashing him and Masai, would most likely be just like Colangelo if they were in his position (terrible!). They'd blow the team-up every chance they get, pat themselves on the back and defend their poor draft selections.

    Masai is going into the season with no expectations, so should the fans. He very well might know what he's got, but what he's got can't get him what he wants right now (high 2014 lottery pick, or superstar player.) As fans let's go into the season with no expectations and just cheer on the Raptors (as long as they play hard).

    Masai said he's aiming for 2015 for the team to be competitive let's wait until we get there.
    How about you do your thing and others can do their own as well?
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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    So much here makes me want to bash my head in frustration if true, yet I also hardly (can't?) believe he is doing anything other than doing the usual executive talk out of the side of their mouth.

    (*very ranty, so be ready)



    This can't be a serious statement.
    I wasn't frustrated by the quote. You aren't going to get the Word of God from a GM during the precamp interview (if ever). Ujiri seems especially evasive/less candid than Coangelo. One of Coangelo's weaknesses was that he said to much to the media. A statement like "We need to overpay to get players to come here" just inflates the amount that agents think they can't get during contract negotiations, and therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Coangelo was pretty straight with fans and media on where he was taking the team (at least relative to Ujiri thus far).

    That said, I did see the same things in the article that you did and can understand your frustration (although I don't think it's warranted, at this point).


    Quote Bendit wrote: View Post
    Unplugged indeed! The MU claims of not knowing what he has on the team has to be a load. On the other hand I dont blame him. It buys him time with the potential traders out there and he keeps everyone guessing about true intentions. The only one who probably knows is TL who enunciated within days of arrival and bouncing BC that the team wasnt going anywhere as currently constituted. I assume he came to this conclusion by speaking with some independent basketball minds out there. So, would TL go out and filch MU from Denver and give him a 5 year deal if MU was not of similar mind? My disappointment only is in MU flapping his gums on this subject but I suppose he must render opinions now that the season is upon us and not upset the troops too much....so feign ignorance. Again, patience until Dec-Jan... he already knows what he wants to do...my tea leaves of course.
    I agree with the above, although I don't mind his gum flapping, because I feel like that's for the benefit of other GM's in the field.

    Quote Raptorsss wrote: View Post
    Masai said he's aiming for 2015 for the team to be competitive let's wait until we get there.
    I'm fine with 2015 to be competitive, but to that means he has until Dec. - Jan. and next years off-season at the absolute latest to show us he's moving in that direction (Either by bringing in good talent at good value, stock piling draft picks and/or cutting cap space to make room for more good value/good talent players. IMO our roster LACKS all three of those things ATM. My opinion is that if we don't see it starting by then it's not going to happen by 2015.

    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    I think he knows what he has individually. I don't think he knows what he has collectively. How will players mesh? How will Casey perform minus the reported meddling from front office? How will the competition fare with their own changes and development?
    This is a good point, I always assumed that he had the players figured out (I mean, wasn't that part of his interview? Didn't he and TL basically disagree with coangelo's assessment publicly? You'd
    have to be should be pretty sure of what you saying if you you're going to go out to the media with it.)

    I've always assumed he new exactly what he wanted/wants to do but is willing to wait until he gets the conditions he wants to do it, so saying he needs time to "figure it out" is BS but necessary BS.

    After reflecting, I'll meet you in the middle. I think MU HAS a plan worked out or at least a couple of likely scenarios he's working out of. Some of those plans are mutually exclusive, and probably all are a bit fluid based on the factors you mentioned. So generally, he's got it all figured out with want he thinks is going to happen, and how he's going to respond, but he's willing to "tweak" it based on external factors (other gms, other team's players) and internal factors (player development, casey's coaching ability). Basically, until he demonstrates otherwise he got my vote of confidence 100%.

    Which is why I think Craigers frustration is unwarranted, at least at this point.

    TL, didn't seem to put up with that crap from Coangelo so why would MU get away with it? Unless it's only subterfuge?

    Masai Subterfujiri?
    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic Starter S.R.'s Avatar
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    @ezz_bee - I feel pretty much the same way, re: MU has a plan and strategy, but he's not the type of GM to announce his intentions to the media before the season's even started. There's no benefit to that - especially if he has changes in mind. That's the greatest irony here - the more likely he is to make a major change, the less likely he is to talk about it. It would ruin his team's chemistry/morale before the season even starts and weaken his bargaining position. GM's really shoot themselves in the foot when they announce a player's availability then are unable to make a move quickly. That's part of the reason Ray Allen walked on the Celtics - he was tired of being public trade bait.

    I still think, based on MU's work in Denver, that most of his "wait and see" really has to do with waiting for a great transaction to present itself. He's comfortable with sticking with what he's got as opposed to selling players of for .50 cents on the dollar. As Raptors fans who lived through the consequences of selling Vince Carter for nothing, we should be extremely happy about this. If MU's gonna be patient like that, then the public message HAS to be that he's more or less comfortable with current stability.

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    i think this is more he knows what he had under poor management and a coach that didnt coach the way he wanted. Under his system he wants to see how these guys perform together and as individuals. He wants to see what we actually have that will fit into HIS system and i think that is perfectly acceptable. Its stupid not to do it that way. He got rid of Bargs which he had to do now he can assess and make decisions from there.. good on him.

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