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Ujiri laments Raptors' free-agency woes

Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri admits it's on him and the front office to determine why recent free-agent additions haven't supplemented their core as well as they hoped.

"We've studied all of this. The last couple of years, we just haven't done very well in assessing what those fits could be," Ujiri told reporters Wednesday at his end-of-season media availability. "But when you have the staple pieces like we had, sometimes ... with our jobs, you think bringing in a certain piece is not going to affect as much because you have staple pieces like a Scottie Barnes or like a Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, those kind of players. But on the lower level, we 100% need to do a better job of finding some of those players.

"Otto Porter didn't work out because he got injured, and sometimes those things are hard. But, yeah, we take responsibility. ... When we looked at Dennis Schroder, we absolutely studied it. We saw a point guard that's going to be a tough defender and come and play here for the team. Unfortunately, I don't know if we gave it enough time, but definitely, the time that he was here - not his fault or anything, I think more our fault - it didn't work out."

For much of the franchise's short history, Toronto has struggled to land an impactful name on the open market, and nearly all of its free-agent signings over the last couple of seasons have failed to leave a lasting impression.

In the free-agency window ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, the Raptors' top additions were Porter, D.J. Wilson, Justin Champagnie, Juancho Hernangomez, and Josh Jackson - none of whom remain with the club. Last summer, their new signings were Jalen McDaniels, Schroder, Jeff Dowtin, and Garrett Temple; McDaniels is the only one under contract with Toronto for 2024-25.

Ujiri didn't specify if or how he and general manager Bobby Webster would alter their strategy for this summer. Barnes is now the face of the franchise after Siakam and Anunoby were dealt midseason to the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, respectively. However, the longtime NBA exec shed light on the kind of player they'll look for.

"Honestly, our team is not at a point where we can really pick and choose," Ujiri said. "I know backup point guard is something that we'll focus on a little bit. I think a wing defender-type player is something we'll focus on. I think we've been unlucky in the last year or so - maybe a backup big that's young and suits us in some kind of way."

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