Raptors president Ujiri calls VanVleet a ‘big-time priority’
TORONTO — Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri says re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet is a “big-time priority.”
VanVleet, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, averaged 18 points and seven assists this season for the defending NBA champions.
Ujiri, who has one year left on his contract, says he hasn’t had any discussions with team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment since the club’s season ended last week. He spoke to reporters Thursday in his season-ending news conference.
Ujiri said feelings were still raw coming out of the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort last week, where the Raptors lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The Raptors executive said his priority since then has been taking care of his leadership team. Earlier this week, the Raptors signed coach Nick Nurse to a multi-year extension. Nurse’s contract also was due to run out after next season. Ujiri said the team also is close to signing general manager Bobby Webster to a contract extension.
Ujiri has been involved in a legal dispute with a law enforcement officer after a confrontation at last year’s NBA Finals in Oakland, California. As part of a counter suit filed by Ujiri’s legal team, a video came out showing an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy shoving the Raptors executive first.
“This was very hard for me … when this video came out, I didn’t sleep for a few days … I really struggled in the bubble, thinking of all of this,” Ujiri said.