Under new leadership, the Toronto Raptors will begin their 2013-14 season on Wednesday night with the hopes of making the playoffs. But underneath it all, an inside source of The Toronto Star believes new general manager Masai Ujiri and his staff have put a 45-day deadline on the team, after which they could blow up the roster to start anew.
Of course, the prize, should that plan take full effect, is current Kansas Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins, a Canadian who is tabbed as the best prospect to enter the 2014 NBA Draft and its well-regarded class of players.
According to a source, The Star reports that Ujiri could attempt to trade any unwanted players by mid-December, even if the Raptors appear to be a playoff team. Avoiding the Eastern Conference middleground by either exceeding expectations or tanking for the No. 1 overall pick is the goal.
Do not mistake this either - the Raptors still believe they are in the Wiggins sweepstakes if they decide to be. It won't be easy to clear out this roster, especially if the likes of Rudy Gay come out sluggishly, but GM Masai Ujiri was brought here to accomplish difficult tasks.
If the Raptors decide they aren't good enough, they will take every scorched-earth step to make the top pick a statistical possibility.
If Ujiri's background is any indication, his patience with a team led by Rudy Gay -- the forward was acquired last year by Ujiri's predecessor, Bryan Colangelo -- could be running out. Ujiri wants to put his teams in position to land a star, and at the very least he covets the draft picks to do so. Ujiri told the National Post he knows that shuffling the decks is all about getting superstars, because after all, NBA teams can't succeed without them.
"The chances (of winning a title without a star) are, for me, they're slim," Ujiri told the National Post. "I totally agree that, yes, you have to have one or a couple of those guys, but how do you create it where - I can't come into Toronto or come into Denver and give the excuse that, ‘Hey, I can't get any of those guys.'
"So I have to create the environment here. I have to create that environment. It starts with the young players, it starts with the culture you create there, it starts with drafting well. You bring those players, and you attract those players."
So what'll it be? If the reports indicate anything, it's that the Raptors will need to get off to a furious start to the season if the current collection of players hope to stick around.