After five straight losing seasons, the Toronto Raptors rebuilding efforts have stalled, and during an introductory press conference new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke hinted major changes are on the horizon.
One of those could be a complete rebranding in the form of a name change.
The Raptors recently stole rising star general manager Masai Ujiri from the Denver Nuggets, and MLSE also hired Leiweke from Los Angeles sports conglomerate AEG.
The pair met the media together for the first time Wednesday and during the press conference the idea of exploring a name change came up.
“We’re definitely going to take a look at it,” Leiweke said according to The National Post. “It doesn’t mean we’re committed to it. It means it’s a good conversation. I saw those generic uniforms today in the paper. That won’t be the uniform, by the way. I can assure you of that. I think we need to have this conversation.”
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Ujiri will be managing the basketball side of things, while the business side will still be handled by Bryan Colangelo, who was originally handling both.
Originally thrust into the national spotlight when Carmelo Anthony forced his way out of Denver, Ujiri took the haul of players from that trade and flipped them in to a high-flying, deep, and dangerous team that could have had a deeper playoff run this season if Danilo Gallinari hadn’t torn his ACL.
A name change could rejuvenate a slightly lethargic fan base, and maybe give a shot in the arm to a talented, but largely green team.
Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan made significant strides last season, and the addition of Rudy Gay gives the club a budding star who can create his own shot and open up scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Help won't come this year via the draft. The team doesn’t have a first round draft pick this year due to a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, otherwise they’d have the 12th overall pick.
Since their inaugural season in 1995, the Raptors have made the playoffs five times and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals once in the 2000-2001 season when Vince Carter donned the purple, black and red.