Raptors, Masai Ujiri have options ahead of Thursday's NBA draft

The Raptors have the ninth and 27th picks in Thursday's NBA draft, and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said there are numerous different options around trading away picks or using them.

Toronto has 9th, 27th overall picks in 2016 draft

Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has some options to explore ahead of the 2016 NBA draft on Thursday. On Tuesday, Ujiri said several teams are interested in acquiring the No. 9 overall pick from Toronto. (Carlos Osorio/Getty Images)

In the roller-coaster week of the NBA draft, Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said some daily themes have emerged.

"A couple of my guys are all over the place [in what player they like] so I called yesterday 'All Over the Place Monday,"' Ujiri said, with a laugh.

"Right now it's: 'Have All Your Options on the Board Tuesday."'

The Raptors have the ninth and 27th picks in Thursday's NBA draft. Ujiri said there are numerous different options around trading away picks or using them.

Ujiri is certain of one thing: the annual NBA draft is right up there on his list of favourite days of the season.

"To be honest, this is. This and the camps in August are my best times of the year, you just enjoy," Ujiri said Tuesday at Biosteel Centre. "It's exciting, because this is our job. I have been in the room where we didn't have a pick, and we were just looking at those phones, and looking at those phones. I don't want that.

Interest in No. 9 

"I don't know if it's something they teach at Harvard for negotiating, but there is something about everybody calling you with like one second to go, everybody trying to put a gun to your head. We do exercises to prepare for that time, and it's exciting."

Ujiri said there's a market for the No. 9 pick, and that he was talking to several teams about potentially trading the pick — hence "options on the board Tuesday."

The Raptors are fortunate to have such a high pick coming off their most successful season in franchise history, finishing two wins away from the NBA final.

Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis, the son of Lithuanian hall of famer Arvydas Sabonis, is a favourite at No. 9 on several mock drafts.

The Raptors selected two-time all-star DeMar DeRozan at No. 9 in 2009, and there have been numerous other notables at that spot: Chicago's Joakim Noah in 2007, Charlotte's Kemba Walker in 2011, and Detroit all-star Andre Drummond in 2012. There have also been a few busts, including D.J. Augustin in 2008.

"I don't know if it's a draft where we can get somebody who can come and impact our team right away," Ujiri said. "And we have to take that aside and look at it sometimes in a different way.

Highest pick since 2012

"We also focus on: what do we want as a team? We try to put that on the board, and what is it we want to accomplish? That's very important rather than you're all over the place."

Nine is the Raptors' highest draft pick since they chose Terrence Ross at No. 8 in 2012. They took point guard Delon Wright at No. 20 last season, their only pick.

Ujiri said his staff will continue to narrow down its priority list heading into Thursday night.

"This is the time when you listen to all that your guys say, and all the homework they've done on all the players," Ujiri said. "It's very unique, and all the bets we have, all the trash talking ... as early as late [Monday] night, we went through the room: who would you pick? who would you pick? And it's very interesting to see all our guys' eyes, and how they react."

Ujiri and his staff will work the draft for the first time in their new "war room" at the $38-million BioSteel Centre. Like something out of the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report," the state-of-the-art room has interactive screens on the curved wall and on the table top, allowing immediate access to information such as player stats and trade simulations.


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