Ujiri, who orchestrated the risky trade for Leonard in the summer of 2018, was asked if the Raptors can still win it all without their best player. The former NBA Executive of the Year didn’t hesitate and guaranteed another Larry O’Brien Trophy for the Canadian franchise.
“100 percent,” Ujiri said in an interview with Adrienne Arsenault, co-host of CBC’s The National (via Sylvia Thompson of CBC News)
Ujiri noted that Leonard was a key part in creating a winning culture within the team. Even though he’s gone, that culture will forever remain with the current Raptors squad.
“I look at what this team has done and what we can learn from it. We learned how to win. And Kawhi taught us that. He brought us into that space,” Ujiri added.
The Raptors will enter the 2019-20 season with their core line up relatively intact. They still have veteran guard Kyle Lowry as their floor leader, as well as Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Nick Nurse will also return for his second year as the team’s head coach.
From the looks of it, the Raptors still have the tools to make contend in the Eastern Conference. Leonard, without a doubt, is a great loss. As Ujiri said, however, the winning culture has been instilled in the team.