The Toronto Raptors did not put forward Anthony Bennett in a position to succeed, general manager Masai Ujiri admitted Tuesday.
The Canadian forward was officially waived by Toronto Tuesday to make room for Jason Thompson after a brief stint with the club in which he only appeared in 19 games.
“It’s not anything Anthony did wrong,” Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said Tuesday at a media availability with local reporters. “I probably put him a tough situation. I feel he needs to be somewhere where he can play. Playing time was going to be tough. I take responsibility for that because it wasn’t the kid’s fault. People keep saying he’s talented and he’ll get a chance. It just has to be a team with opportunity to play.”
Playing time became an issue for Bennett in Toronto as the Raptors couldn’t find room in the rotation behind veteran power forwards such as Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson. Bennett averaged just 1.5 points, 1.2 rebounds, with a .269 field goal percentage with the Raptors.
"I feel it’s a tough situation to put the kid in," Ujiri acknowledged. "First of all, to be honest, (Luis) Scola came out and just helped us. We had that (good) record starting the season...This has nothing to do with him. People will write about the No. 1 pick and this and that but the kid (still) has a chance and a lot of talent."
Ujiri admitted that the Raptors' improved performance, which has surpassed his own expectations, made it difficult to properly develop Bennett, who needs more experience at this point in his career.
"You need to keep fighting and fighting," Ujiri said of Bennett. "He did that to be honest. He kept coming. And he kept trying to figure it out. There’s just no minutes. Did we sit here and think we’d be second in the East. I was praying on my knees. I don’t know if I thought that. That’s makes it tough on us. We’re doing something right and it makes it difficult to develop (him.)
"I wish he played more (with Raptors 905)," he added." (Hopefully) he gained something from us. Maybe it’s the fight for the next battle. Wherever he goes, and he’s right there, he just needs to be in a situation where he can play consistently to show his skill and talent."
Otherwise, Ujiri was pleased the team was able to add Thompson, a solid depth forward that can play effective minutes in a limited role.
"He’s a very good rebounder, (a) physical player, and (a) good offensive rebounder. He developed a mid-range shot that’s not bad. Those are things that can help us. He knows he’s coming to play within a system. There’s a way we play... We’re hoping it fits.
"We just hope he helps us win more ballgames down the stretch and helps us as a team.”