Masai Ujiri, Raptors Agree on Contract to Become to TOR Vice Chairman, President

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 5, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2011, file photo, Masai Ujiri, the Denver Nuggets general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations, addresses the media about the trade of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks during an NBA basketball news conference in Denver. Yahoo Sports reported Friday, May 24, 2013, that the Nuggets are allowing Ujiri to meet with the Toronto Raptors about their GM vacancy.  (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez, File)
Barry Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors can breathe a sigh of relief after Masai Ujiri officially signed his contract extension to remain with the organization. 

The team officially announced Ujiri's agreement on Thursday:  

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

I've said it before, and I am saying it again. We will win in Toronto. - Masai https://t.co/KJ64UwjZPo

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the "significant new deal" will see Ujiri remain as Toronto's top basketball and business executive with the title of vice chairman and president. 

Heading into a crucial offseason that will shape the long-term direction of the franchise, Ujiri's contract status was hanging over everything. Kyle Lowry is expected to leave the Raptors as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred Van Vleet have all signed long-term extensions. The team also selected Florida State guard Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA draft. 

Coming off a 27-45 record last season, the Raptors have the potential for a quick turnaround if they can keep their key players healthy.

Even though Ujiri had yet to sign a new deal, there have been indications the 51-year-old was continuing his work with the Raptors. 

"He's working like someone whose team's problems are his to fix. He's all in on the draft, he's looking at free agency," one player agent told Michael Grange of SportsNet.ca in July. "He's coming back."

Ujiri has established himself as one of the best and most respected executives in the NBA. He began his career with the Denver Nuggets as general manager and executive vice president in charge of basketball operations in 2010. 

After spending three seasons in Denver, Ujiri was hired by the Raptors as executive vice president and general manager. He played a critical role in building the roster that helped the franchise win the 2019 NBA title, including trading for Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard and drafting Siakam. 

Toronto's success under Ujiri's watch made him one of the most sought-after executives in the league.

Wojnarowski reported hours after the Raptors won the NBA title two years ago that the Washington Wizards were preparing to make Ujiri an offer to run their basketball operations that "could approach $10 million annually and deliver him the opportunity for ownership equity."

In February 2020, Wojnarowski reported that New York Knicks governor James Dolan was targeting Ujiri to oversee the organization's basketball operations department. 

Despite the apparent interest from other teams, Ujiri has remained in Toronto through it all. The Raptors made the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons before missing out in 2020-21. 

Given Ujiri's strong track record of success at finding players in the draft and a willingness to make aggressive trades to improve his roster, the Raptors will be in excellent hands as long as he is in the front office.