Masai Ujiri, the NBA's reigning Executive of the Year for Nuggets, has all of the qualifications to become a successful general manager in the Association. However, that opportunity will come outside of Denver.
UPDATE: Friday, May 31, at 11:52 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Here's a quote from Ujiri regarding his new opportunity:
“To come back to the Raptors, to live in such a great city, and work in an organization that has committed all the resources necessary to win championships was a huge factor in the decision,” said Ujiri. “I have already developed a great relationship with Tim Leiweke and I can’t wait to get back to Canada to build a team that is poised to take the next step in the NBA.”
---End of update---
UPDATE: Friday, May 31st, at 5:30 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Ujiri has accepted the Raptors' general manager job:
Masai Ujiri has accepted Toronto GM job, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 31, 2013
Masai Ujiri has agreed to a 5 year deal for $15 million with Toronto, league sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 31, 2013
---End of update---
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is said to have made Ujiri an aggressive, multimillion-dollar offer to help resuscitate the struggling franchise. The two sides met on Friday to discuss the vacancy, which opened when prior general manager and president Bryan Colangelo was not retained as GM.
What's interesting is that the Nuggets have no intention of making a counteroffer. Toronto's contract is said to be at least twice or even three times what Denver was willing to offer in negotiations with Ujiri, who took over basketball operations in 2010.
A source close to the Nuggets said team owners "seems to be moving on," per Wojnarowski.
While dumping an Executive of the Year has become something of the norm for the Nuggets—Mark Warkentien won the award in 2009 only to be replaced a year later—Ujiri is among the most respected, young executives in basketball.
The 42-year-old, who spent time under Colangelo in Toronto before coming to Denver, is largely credited for the current iteration of the Nuggets. Under him, they went 57-25 during the regular season en route to finishing with the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
The deal brought a lot to Denver, including Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick, two second-round picks and the conditional right to swap the 2016 first-round pick.
Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman were sent to New York, along with Anthony. Minnesota, the third team involved, received Anthony Randolph, Eddie Curry and cash, and they gave up Corey Brewer to the Knicks.
He made the Nuggets an instrumental fourth wheel in the Dwight Howard trade last summer, landing the Nuggets' Andre Iguodala for Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo and a first-round draft pick.
Would Ujiri Masai be a good hire for Toronto?
The Raptors are hoping the return of Ujiri can bring success that the forward-thinking Colangelo could not. Toronto has not had a winning season since 2006-07 and finished 34-48 this past season.
With a roster that already exceeds the cap for the 2013-14 season, Uriji has a major rebuilding job ahead of him. There are questions about what to do with Andrea Bargnani, among others, and the previous regime banked hard on Rudy Gay turning into a franchise-level player.
It gives Ujiri something to think about in the coming days. He reportedly has a good relationship with the Nuggets organization; however, it seems Toronto is preparing to give him the ultimate form of respect—a Brink's truck full of money.