Masai Ujiri Confirms He’s Staying In Toronto

Toronto Star- Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he appreciates the interest from other NBA clubs, but his roots are in Toronto.

Ujiri held an end-of-season news conference Thursday, in which he talked about his future in Toronto, winning an NBA championship and the growth of basketball in Africa and Canada.

Reports surfaced shortly after the Raptors won their first NBA title that the Washington Wizards were preparing a lucrative offer to lure Ujiri out of Toronto.

Ujiri’s wife is from Washington, and the Wizards were reportedly offering an ownership stake in the team.

 

This is obviously a huge blow to the Washington Wizards, who have yet to name a replacement to former GM Ernie Grunfeld. Ujiri was the name most talked about online and in the media when discussing front office candidates. Ujiri’s added NBA Champion to his resume this Summer to go along with a track record of helping franchises make the next step. He briefly worked as a scout for the Denver Nuggets before being hired by the Toronto Raptors in 2008 as assistant GM. He returned to Denver as GM and VP of Basketball Operations and won the NBA Executive of the Year award in 2013 before returning to Toronto as GM and President of Basketball Operations.

It is obvious why Ted Leonsis wanted Ujiri to run the front office. During his Toronto tenure, he took Toronto from 4th in the Atlantic to 1st in his first year, ending a five year playoff drought, won 5 division titles (including having the best record in the East in the 17-18 season), and ECF in 2016. He took a huge risk in firing Coach of the Year winner Dwane Casey and pulled off the steal of the year (and maybe century) by trading for Kawhi Leonard AND Danny Green without giving up any young pieces and just one protected 1st rd pick. The Wizards wanted him so badly, they were willing to give him ownership stake.

Washington Post- For several weeks, speculation has persisted about the Wizards’ interest in Ujiri. By late Thursday night, various news outlets detailed the proposed offers: close to $10 million annually, six years for $60 million or even a percentage of ownership and control over other Monumental Sports & Entertainment properties. The Post also reported on the Wizards’ link to Ujiri and that “a potential offer would have to include a pathway to an ownership stake.”

$10 million a year is a huge pay day, not to mention the ownership stake that was reportedly offered. Leonsis has since denied that any offer was or would be made, stating that he would “take his time” in forming the new front office. With the 2019 NBA Draft already in the books and free agency starting in five days, it seems that Leonsis is content to wait this out until the right candidate comes along.