NBA rumors: Masai Ujiri deal with Raptors expected to get done

While he’s yet to sign a new deal with Raptors owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment or – conversely — indicate that’s he’s leaving after a spectacular, franchise-changing nine-year run, Ujiri has been doing what he always does in the build-up to the draft – eyeing talent, working the phones, laying out scenarios for free agency and beyond. “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,” said one player agent. “He’s coming back.”

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Ujiri was giving observers a similar impression while at the NBA draft combine in Chicago recently. “He was acting like the president of the Raptors at the combine and on a mission to win another title,” said another.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some doubts about his future. Until the deal is done, there will be concern at MLSE about being able to keep Ujiri, who is as closely identified with the franchise as any player in almost any market. Talks are ongoing, led by MLSE chairman and minority owner Larry Tanenbaum, although all the elements of the ownership group are represented.
Once again, Ujiri remaining in Toronto is the most likely scenario. “It’s moving slowly, but it’s moving,” said one source of Ujiri’s talks with MLSE.
It’s not that ownership doesn’t see it in the same way – “They love him, and they believe in him … he’s won them a championship and they believe he’s going to win them some more,” was how one source close to MLSE put it to me back in May – but a deal as big as Ujiri’s likely will end up being can have ripple effects in an organization that owns two other professional teams and is owned by a pair of publicly traded companies.
They can’t just be seen as randomly giving money or control away. But the expectation is that Ujiri will get the deal he wants and deserves, sooner than later. “The richest deal for a president/general manager in team sports history,” said one source.
Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said Wednesday morning that his decision to re-sign with the franchise this offseason will be determined by conversations he is set to have with the team's ownership group in the coming weeks. "Everybody says, 'blank check, blank check,' but I'm not as much focused on a blank check," Ujiri said during a news conference that lasted for more than a half hour, when asked what he will think about in making his decision about whether to remain with the Raptors. "A lot of the things that we've done here, we have to move forward as a franchise to compete with the best in the NBA. This is all about winning a championship again.
"Let me tell you something, guys: everybody has forgotten what happened two years ago. OK, yes, we won. But nobody cares anymore, OK? We want to win another one. That's what you want to do. Yeah, you want to prepare yourself to win another one. Not play in the play-in game, not play in the playoffs, you want to win a championship. Everybody's like, 'Why don't you get into the play-in?' Play-in for what? We want to win a championship here and we have to put ourselves in position.
Tim Bontemps: Masai Ujiri says there is "nothing new" about his future. Ujiri's contract with Toronto is expiring.
There is a mounting confidence that there is a clear path for Ujiri’s return, and there will be a good-faith negotiation to find common ground on a deal that will extend the Raptors president’s tenure with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment from eight years until as far into the future as he wants to stay. It’s not like MLSE has a plan B to replace the person more tightly woven into the fabric of the franchise than any player. Their position is straightforward. There are no tactics or posturing. “They love him, and they believe in him,” said a source close to the MLSE board. “He’s won them a championship and they believe he’s going to win them some more.”
Can a deal be done? Optimism is increasing. “Masai doesn’t share a lot; he’s very private and strategic in his own way,” said the source close to MLSE. “But if you were asking ‘Are they going to sign Masai?’ I would put it at 95 per cent yes.”
He’s been more active communicating with players, both in-person and via text, according to another source. Certainly those that have gone to battle with him want to stay the course. “He’s been the focal point of everything that’s Toronto Raptors ever since I’ve been here. Kyle Lowry is obviously the greatest Raptor of all time, and No. 2 might be Masai,” Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet said on Sunday.
Josh Lewenberg: VanVleet on Masai: "He's shown no signs of anything else other than commitment towards us throughout this entire year... Contracts are contracts and you've gotta negotiate, so we'll see where he ends up going forward and hopefully it's back with us."
Like Lowry, Ujiri has been regarded by fans and the organization as Raptors royalty since the team’s championship run in 2018-19. It is widely presumed in league circles that only an overwhelming offer in a highly desirable market could lure him away from the influence and affection he has amassed in Toronto. Yet these many months without a deal and Webster’s rising profile as a natural successor have raised the question: How much longer will Ujiri be running the Raptors?
Some around the league, though, have wondered about a potential down-the-road option that does not yet exist. The group heading expansion efforts in Seattle features the longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, who brought Ujiri to Toronto for the 2013-14 season.
But on his own deal he was far less definitive, citing that the logistics of seeing the team through the relocation from Toronto to Tampa Bay as a short-term obstacle, just as seeing the team through the pandemic and the restart was an obstacle before that. The two sides haven’t talked in depth about his contract since February, according to sources.
In conversations with other NBA executives and other league insiders, the consensus is his track record — his teams have made 10 consecutive playoff appearances and averaged more than 50 wins — and league-wide profile, combined with the leverage he has, will almost certainly make him the highest-paid executive in the league for now and into the foreseeable future. The bidding will start at $12 million a year. “Masai has gotten to the point where he’s maxed the market as it relates to someone in his position,” said one well-positioned league insider. “As far as a front-office person is concerned, he’s going to make the most money that a front-office person has ever made, and he’s probably going to be able to hold that, where no one is going to be able to usurp that number.”
Ujiri is a pending free agent again. His eighth season with the team is also the final year of his current contract, and all signals are that he is in no rush to sign an extension. The people he works for? They would have signed him yesterday if they could. “I can promise you, it’s not [MLSE],” said a source with knowledge of the ownership’s thinking. “They’d have to be nuts not to [want to sign him]. It’s not like there’s a Plan A and a Plan B. There’s only Plan A, and it’s him. But he’s a very deliberate guy, and the kind of guy you have to respect his space.”
The two sides haven’t talked in depth about his contract since February, according to sources. “I think there's just been so much that I know I've pushed it out 'til I think we get through a lot of this,” he said Saturday. “There's just so much going on with this relocation and the focus, and I don't want to be distracted that way.”
Josh Lewenberg: Ujiri says extensions for his staff (which presumably includes Webster) are "pretty much done... there's no issue." As for his contractual status, Masai says there's just been so much going on that he's pushed it back, but indicates that there's nothing to worry about.
There is a plan, and a time and a place for everything, and Larry Tanenbaum and Raptors president Masai Ujiri are working at their own pace on all of it. The long-term future of Ujiri, whose contract runs out at the end of next season, is a growing concern among the team’s fans but Tanenbaum knows there is no need to rush. There are other priorities, as Ujiri spelled out last week. “Our fans, they love Masai for all that he’s contributed to the Raptors franchise and to our community and to our country — and our appreciation for him, that can’t be measured,” Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said in an interview Tuesday. “But it was his and my game plan to secure his management team extension before his own.”
Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who has one year remaining on his contract, on Thursday said he has yet to enter discussions with team ownership about an extension. "No, I haven't had discussions, and honestly, coming out of this, things are a little raw," Ujiri said on a conference call with reporters. "I'm going to reflect a little bit, and we will address it when it's time to address it."
Ujiri was "super excited" after Nurse, the Coach of the Year this season after winning an NBA title with the Raptors last season, received a multiyear extension last week. Webster also is on the verge of getting an extension, Ujiri said. "The future is bright," Ujiri said. "But in terms of me, I haven't had those conversations, and I'll wait until those happen in the future."
Larry Tanenbaum told Postmedia he is not worried that another NBA team is once again trying to poach Masai Ujiri from the Toronto Raptors, adding that there’s no reason to believe the successful executive won’t remain in the city once his contract expires following the 2020-21 season. “We hope so,” Tanenbaum, who is MLSE part-owner and long-time chairman, said earlier this week at the Board of Governors’ meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif. “We haven’t talked (about an extension) at this point in time, but if you ask him, his intentions are pretty clear.”
The Wizards are preparing a six-year, $60 million offer for Raptors president Masai Ujiri, sources tell The Athletic’s Fred Katz and David Aldridge. Washington has been waiting on Ujiri since mid-May and did not want to make an official run at him until the Raptors’ playoff run ended. Owner Ted Leonsis plans to request permission from Toronto sometime soon. The Raptors won their first title in franchise history when they defeated the Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
Although an offer worth $10 million annually would place Ujiri among the league’s highest-paid executives, The Athletic previously reported that Ujiri’s decision likely would not come down to money. Raptors ownership, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, is loaded with revenue and could certainly increase Ujiri’s salary, which is somewhere in the $6 million to $7 million range currently, according to sources.
Michael Grange: MLSE owner Larry Tanenbaum when asked about @wojespn report that Wizards owner @TedLeonsis is attempting to recruit Masai Ujiri with a $10-million a year offer and an ownership stake:

http://twitter.com/michaelgrange/status/1139417032724606976
The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have signed President Masai Ujiri to a multi-year contract extension and promoted Jeff Weltman to general manager and Bobby Webster to assistant general manager/vice-president basketball strategy. Ujiri will continue to oversee basketball operations as president of the club. “I am grateful to the Board and Mr. Tanenbaum for the opportunity to continue our progress to build the Raptors into one of the top franchises in the NBA,” said Ujiri. “I’m also excited that Jeff and Bobby are being rewarded for their hard work and valuable contributions to our program. My family thanks the NBA, Raptors players and coaches, staff, Raptors fans, the city of Toronto and Canada for this opportunity. Toronto is home for us.”
Sources said that the Raptors and Ujiri are nearing agreement on a lucrative new deal that will keep the 46-year-old in Canada for the foreseeable future, even though he still has nearly two years left on the original five-year, $15 million pact he signed with Toronto in May 2013.
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Example: During the Las Vegas summer league, word circulated that Lore and Rodriguez would have loved to have made a run at Toronto’s Masai Ujiri to lead Minnesota’s front office. Ujiri recently signed a lucrative contract extension to stay with the Raptors — and the Wolves realistically had no shot at him — but the whispered interest only reinforces the notion that Lore and Rodriguez want to make splashy hires.