Masai Ujiri Rumors
Ryan Wolstat: Masai Ujiri on Flip Saunders: “We lost a great coach but an even better person. This one hits home. He is gone too early. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the Timberwolves organization. May his soul rest in peace.”
While Raptors president Masai Ujiri extended Casey’s contract, he didn’t hire him in the first place – though their relationship and communication are both said to be solid. Casey has instilled a winning environment and defensive backbone in Toronto, but when will a first-round exit no longer be good enough?
That led to his first full-time job, with the Denver Nuggets. He switched from Denver to Toronto and back. In 2013, he was NBA executive of the year as the Nuggets general manager. The next year, he was lured back to run the Raptors organization. By now, there are very few important players in the college and pro games that he does not call a friend. He leveraged those relationships to get Giants of Africa started. The first camp took place in Ujiri’s hometown of Zaria, Nigeria, in 2003. The 50 invitees lacked the most basic equipment. Ujiri put a box in the middle of the Nuggets dressing room. Players dropped whatever they had lying around inside.
In Kenya, it’s another 16-year-old South Sudanese, Kon Bior. At 6-foot-6, Bior has the broad build and easy grace that mark the special ones. He is one of those players who seem spotlit on the floor. “He has the eyes of a killer,” Ujiri says. “That kid can be in the NBA.” Bior doesn’t need Ujiri’s help. He’s enrolled in one of Kenya’s best high schools, and already a bit of a local legend. Others have taken notice. Remember the name. He’s on his way somewhere. Ujiri has to wait like everyone else to see exactly where. But watching Bior run the floor, Ujiri still can’t help muttering to himself: “He would look so good in a Raptors jersey.”
It’s not impossible to think the Raptors would make those kinds of sacrifices, especially if Thompson continues his upward trend. But it is somewhat off base for anyone to believe that the Raptors have the cash to add Thompson. Raptors President Masai Ujiri has been pretty adept at finding creative ways to land players he covets, but it’s not a home run that Thompson can just walk to Toronto without the Raptors having to make some hard cap decisions, even with the salary cap expected to balloon to roughly $90 million next season.