TORONTO - Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri opened his season-ending news conference Tuesday by lamenting the need to speak to the media at a time when he still has evaluations and decisions to make, but he did make one thing clear when asked about pending free agent Kyle Lowry.
"It's our job to try and get Kyle to come back," Ujiri said. "We want him back."
That said, Ujiri also cautioned that it's Lowry's decision, too, and there are no guarantees for either party.
"I would be a bad leader if I came to you today and I said 'we're not bringing back Kyle,' or 'we're bringing back Kyle.'"
Not to mention, wanting the All-Star point guard back doesn't necessarily mean Ujiri and Co. are set on maxing out the 31-year-old, who can earn upwards of $200 million over a five-year contract in Toronto, where the Raptors own Lowry's Bird Rights. Any rival suitors could only offer Lowry a four-year maximum contract worth roughly $151 million.
Lowry confirmed Monday he will opt out of his current contract, which contained a $12-million player option for next season. The three-time All-Star and 2016 All-NBA selection averaged a career-high 22.4 points to go along with seven assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals on 46-41-82 shooting this season.
In a wide-ranging news conference that spanned nearly 45 minutes, Ujiri touched on the disappointing end to the Raptors' season, the need to address Toronto's one-on-one style of offensive play, and the need to evaluate the franchise from top to bottom before plotting his next course of action.