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Notebook: Ujiri says Raptors want more after winning NBA title

So, where do the NBA champion Toronto Raptors go from here?

“You want more. There is no question about it, you’re eager for more,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said on Tuesday.

“When you talk to Kawhi (Leonard), you talk to Kyle (Lowry), you talk to Fred (VanVleet), you talk to Serge (Ibaka) — Serge came in the other day and he said, ‘bossman, bossman, I really feel we can win two more.’ And that’s their mentality. Like, Marc Gasol, it’s his mentality. Speaking to Pascal (Siakam), all of them want to win some more. Nick (Nurse) wants to win some more. And they believe. You have to believe. And when you taste it it’s over, you want to do it over and over again,” Ujiri said.

“And honestly, that experience of the playoffs, and seeing the intensity and the rollercoaster and the ups and downs, there’s nothing like it. And you want to keep experiencing that, and you want more and more of it. And I can see how Golden State and all these guys who have done it are inspired to do it again.”

The Raptors aren’t yet sure if Leonard or Gasol or Danny Green will be back, they have decisions to make, starting with Gasol’s on Thursday. But Ujiri did confirm on Tuesday that his and his family’s long-term future is in Toronto and he hopes breakout star Siakam’s is as well.

Toronto can offer him a large contract extension until Halloween, or it could happen a year later.

“I think Pascal has gotten to a place where he’s definitely a priority for us and it’s definitely going to be a conversation that we’ll have,” Ujiri said. “I talked with his agent yesterday and we’re going to be in Summer League and we’ll talk some more I think about Pascal’s future.” The team’s brand has grown immensely thanks to its run to the championship, but Ujiri thinks there is a larger runway still.

“There’s something about this team that reaches out to every person in this world, just something unique about it … It’s crazy what we represent here and it’s something that we’re proud of, we’re really really proud of because it’s something that identifies with what Toronto is, diversity,” Ujiri said.

“It’s what 44 (former U.S. president Barack Obama) said to me when he came to the games, ‘Wow, look at the people, to look at different types of people at the game is unique to come to a Raptors game’ and it trickles down. We can take it to another level because more youth are going to identify with that forever.

“You think about the Vince Carter effect and then you think about the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan effect and now you think about the Kawhi effect. Whether it’s my son who’s 3 or a lot of the kids now, this is what they’re going to remember, this is how they’re going to start playing basketball and 20 years from now it’s going to be even bigger. That’s what this team embodies, that’s what this team shouts to the whole world,” he said.

“We are going to capture the world … We should have seen this years ago and we’re seeing it now, let’s plan for years to come. There is something here … It doesn’t matter where you are, people are watching the NBA. People are watching all these players,” Ujiri said.

“And we should build on that. It should not be a mockery of, ‘we’re in the cold, and people don’t want to come here’ and all that nonsense. That’s past. No one is talking that nonsense now because we have a championship now and we believe in us and it should be how we reach the world, not screaming mockery and making fun of the team and people don’t want to come here or whatever.”

And with that, he stopped, joking he was worrying about getting fined for his passionate musings.

UNFORTUNATE SITUATION

Ujiri said he wanted to wait until Tuesday to make a statement about the shooting at the championship parade in downtown Toronto.

“Honestly, my heart goes out to the people that got hurt,” he said.

“I will reach out to them eventually and I know our organization has already. That was a very unfortunate situation, I’ll say that. But we’re learning. It’s our first time. I also had to leave this to the authorities, whether it’s the police or the mayor’s office or just the organizers overall. You make mistakes when you do things for the first time. And I think my feeling and my hope is that there are more championships so we can correct that,” he said.

OAKLAND CASE UPDATE

Ujiri also briefly discussed the incident in Oakland following Toronto’s win and the reports that police are pursuing charges against him for allegedly shoving a deputy.

“Yes, my lawyers are updating me. Honestly, with that incident I’m going to respect what the process is there and the investigation and I am confident about who I am as a person, my character, and as a human being,” Ujiri said Tuesday.

“So for now I just respect their process there, and wait for the next step.” Multiple first-hand accounts to Postmedia indicated some security officers were being overzealous, rude and unhelpful that night. Ujiri didn’t want to weigh in on if his incident was racially motivated.

“Honestly, I’m going to leave all my comments until the whole investigation is done. I think that’s the fair way and the tight way when things like this do happen. I respect authority, and I’ll wait until that happens.”

AROUND THE RIM

The Raptors have not yet decided which former players or staffers will get championship rings. Earlier in the day Ujiri had quipped: “I don’t know how much time you have to serve on the team and all of that, but honestly, if I could give everybody rings I would give everybody rings including you guys (the media).” … Ujiri wouldn’t address the idea of bringing Carter back for his record final NBA season but said he’d always have a place in Toronto. He also supported the idea of adding a WNBA team. “People are paying more attention to that league and I see more NBA players going and supporting which is unbelievable. I can’t say, with ownership here, we haven’t discussed that honestly per se but maybe it’s the future now, we won a championship we can demand more,” Ujiri said … Ujiri also said Toronto will play a pre-season game one day in Africa and supported Milwaukee’s Jon Horst winning NBA executive of the year. “And I think (Denver’s) Tim Connelly was right there with him, that’s my opinion. Those two guys did a remarkable job.” Ujiri finished fourth in the voting, which was done by fellow executives.

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