Masai Ujiri didn’t need to apologize to DeMar DeRozan

The gesture should be noted, but Raptors president Masai Ujiri did not owe DeMar DeRozan an apology for trading him.

The primary pieces in Wednesday’s trade between the Spur and the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, were immediately reported to not be thrilled to be going to their new team. For Leonard it was a lack of desire to play in Toronto, which has supposedly cooled down a bit over the last day or so. The discontent for DeRozan was apparently rooted in some sort of recent promise he wouldn’t be traded.

On Friday, Raptors president Masai Ujiri referenced that conversation with DeRozan at Summer League. But his eventual label of the talk was pretty aggressive, as if it qualified as a guarantee to DeRozan, and his subsequent actions regarding DeRozan went a bit too far.

Quite simply, the Raptors needed to make some changes beyond firing head coach Dwane Casey and promoting assistant Nick Nurse. The opportunity to acquire Leonard, who when healthy is the top two-way player in the NBA by most accounts, can’t be turned down even it might be a one year rental. If that meant parting with DeRozan, as it ultimately did, some sort of indication about keeping him isn’t a barrier.

We spoke … I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him. So, not necessarily talking about a trade but what I expect from him going forward, and I think that’s where the gap was.”

“In my job, I always have to assume we’re going forward with the team that I have. If there was a miscommunication there, I do apologize to DeMar and his family and his representation. It’s not what I meant.

Ujiri’s acknowledgement of a potential miscommunication is admirable, and that ultimately falls on him to admit as the face of the Raptors’ front office. But if DeRozan’s feelings are hurt about being traded, after fully immersing himself in Toronto and being synonymous with the Raptors’ franchise, let’s refer to a quote from The Godfather, Part II.

“This is the business we’ve chosen.”