DeRozan, upset by the turn of events, had wrote on Instagram saying – “Told one thing and the outcome another. Can’t trust ’em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game.”
Ujiri revealed during the press conference in Toronto that the chance to seal the services of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Leonard was simply too good to throw away.
Although he admitted his regret having told DeRozan that he wouldn’t be traded.
“I want to apologise to DeMar DeRozan for a gap of miscommunication, but also to acknowledge him, and what he’s done here with the Raptors, for this city, for this country,” Ujiri said.
“I had a conversation with DeMar at Summer League, and I want to leave it at that. We spoke. I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him, not necessarily about the trade,” Ujiri added.
DeRozan was instrumental in leading the the Raptors to five straight playoff appearances, but they came short in the past two post-seasons when up against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“You can’t do this same thing over and over again,” Ujiri said. “When you have a chance to get a top five player, we have to jump on it.”
The Raptors acquired Leonard and Danny Green and gave away DeRozan, Jakob Poetl and a 2019 first-round draft pick to San Antonio.
Leonard, meanwhile, made only nine appearances for Spurs last season due to injury as his relationship with the team went from bad to worse.
Leonard, it was rumoured, wanted a move to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
The 27-year old has reportedly let it be known that he isn’t going to play in Toronto long-term.
Although, Ujiri said the player “didn’t express a lack of interest to play in Canada to me”.
“I think there’s a lot of sell here, our team, our culture, our city,” Ujiri said. “We have everything here except the championship in my opinion.”
Know more about Sport360 Application