Masai Ujiri is thinking long-term and is thrilled to have rid himself of Rudy Gay’s albatross of a contract.

Sure, he hedged a bit on Monday, just 30 minutes after the seven-player deal with the Sacramento Kings was officially completed, saying he was aiming to make the Raptors better both now and in the future.

But it’s clear one period of time holds far more importance than the other.

Ujiri termed the deletion of Gay’s $19.3-million 2014-15 contract option a “long-term” move and said the uncertainty of not knowing whether Gay would opt out (even though it seems unthinkable he would, given how poorly he’s played this season) made his job more difficult.

“That option was tough on our part. It’s a tough place to be where you can’t go to Rudy and say: ‘Hey, we need to talk about the future.’ That option really put us in a tough position to plan. I would say flexibility long-term,” Ujiri said.

He added that he’d continue to keep a close eye on the new cast of characters and decide what further moves need to be made. He wouldn’t admit to being in teardown mode, but that’s what’s happening here.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that. I think in some way, we can build. We can build for the future. I think we didn’t come here (to) just tear everything down. I think we’re giving everything a fair shot, and we will continue to,” said the reigning NBA executive of the year.

“That’s the nature of the situation. We have to continue to evaluate what works for us and what works for the team as a whole. And then we’ll go from there. All of those ‘T’ words (tanking, teardown), I don’t know. You changed it up on me. You used a different one now,” he said with a sly smile.

Ujiri knows the deal. He can’t come right out and say what he wants to happen, but he’s been around long enough to know how important it is that the Raptors get into the top of the lottery this season.

A prize such as Andrew Wiggins comes along only so often. A draft year with Wiggins and another handful of potentially franchise-changing players only about once a decade.

This group likely won’t match Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton (1984), Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Marcus Camby and Stephon Marbury (1996), or LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh (2004), but it’s seen as closer to those bumper crops than most.