NBA Franchise Notes: Ujiri Still Looking To Make His Mark On Raptors
In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes Raptors President & GM for Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri's vision for the team, "the one he sold" to MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke, "has yet to materialize in any meaningful way." The Raptors begin the season "in that terrible NBA place called no man’s land." Simmons: "Maybe, if everything goes right ... this can be a team that makes the playoffs and [lasts] a few minutes in the first round." But it could be "another season of in-between basketball, with the Raptors not good enough to be real, not bad enough to be in the mix" to draft Univ. of Kansas F Andrew Wiggins next year (TORONTO SUN, 10/30).
DIVING FOR A REBOUND? 76ers GM Sam Hinkie said of the team's potential struggles this year, "All our focus is on building something special for the Sixers, building a team that could in time be interesting." In Philadelphia, Mike Sielski writes Hinkie arrived this summer "with a mandate: We have to bottom out so we can begin again." If such a strategy is "antithetical to the notion that a professional franchise is obliged to try to put a competitive team on the court, don't blame Hinkie." Sielski: "Blame the NBA, particularly its oppressive salary cap and a draft that rewards failure with the promise of a lottery pick" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/30).
PICK UP THE PACE: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes the city has "finally noticed" the Pacers' success. Individual ticket sales "are up" 50% and package sales are up 30%. Kravitz: "Seriously, if Indy can’t get behind this team -- a team in every conceivable sense of the word -- there’s no hope for pro hoops in Indianapolis" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/30).