NBA Franchise Notes: Raptors, Ujiri Ready To Move On From Leonard
In Toronto, Doug Smith wrote Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri has "proven over his tenure" with the team that he is "capable and willing to make bold moves after working on them stealthily." Given his options after Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers in free agency, "there can be no doubt his mind is already working through scenarios that will likely come out of nowhere" (TORONTO STAR, 7/7). THE ATHLETIC's Blake Murphy wrote the Raptors "should be comfortable in the belief that they did everything that they could" to convince Leonard to re-sign, and his departure "should not be framed as an indictment on the Raptors" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/5).
KNOCKS ON THE KNICKS: In N.Y., David Waldstein wrote for years, it has seemed as if MSG would be a "powerful lure for the NBA's most talented players to sign with the Knicks." But instead, there is a "perception that players would rather not deal with an organization seen as dysfunctional." Knicks Owner James Dolan "may be seen as the primary villain, but others have certainly had a hand in shaping the floundering team," including President Steve Mills. Players around the NBA have "taken note of the Knicks' instability," with the team having had 10 coaches since '01 (N.Y. TIMES, 7/6).
HORNETS BEING STINGY? In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell asks if Hornets Owner Michael Jordan is "rich enough to compete for NBA championships?" Hornets President of Basketball Operations & GM Mitch Kupchak, noting the team's payroll was one of the 10 highest in the league last season, said, "I don't think there's any doubt. I'm a little surprised it even comes up." But Bonnell writes the high payroll "more reflected previous mistakes in player evaluation than spending power." Still, Kupchak was "emphatic" that Jordan "will spend to build a winner" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/7).