There are a number of young Canadian players in the NBA — Andrew Wiggin, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Andrew Nicholson, Nik Stauskas, Tyler Ennis, and the list goes on — but none of them are on the roster of the NBA’s one Canadian team.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri wants to change that.
As part of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s Canadian Basketball Speakers forum, Ujiri said that he would love to get a young Canadian on his team’s roster, although he was careful to avoid naming names as that would be tampering, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
“We are an NBA team, it’s important we look for talent everywhere, but it is on our minds to get a Canadian player or Canadian players,” Ujiri said at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, after he had delivered his address…
“We are studying it. I even considered last year hiring somebody to concentrate just on Canadian players and I think I’m going to go through with it because the growth of the game here is so big,” he said.
“It’s the fit. We can maybe take our time and study it a little bit so it is the right fit and not do it just to do it. It’s going to come, there is no doubt in my mind. It’s an obligation that I think we have to fulfil. We are a Canadian team and I think to have Canadian players, I think will be phenomenal.”
Of course, the Canadian they would most want is Wiggins, who is on his way to being named Rookie of the Year and is showing signs of being a potential superstar in the league (his jumper has made leaps this season). However, Wiggins is in the first year of his rookie deal and the Timberwolves are not about to move him. What’s more, even when his rookie contract is up, he’d have to take a pay cut (and take a risk with injuries at the end of that deal) to get out of town — players almost never turn down a max extention to their rookie contracts. If Wiggins is offered one he likely stays another five years after this first deal. Meaning it’s going to be after 2020 before Wiggins might be a Raptor.
But the other names on that list above, and others coming in the pipeline will become available. There are quality guys Ujiri can get.
And it sounds like he may do just that.