Masai Ujiri Rumors
DeMar DeRozan – believing Raptors president Masai Ujiri lied to him before trading him to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard – said of Ujiri: “I have no reason to talk to him. At all.” Apparently, DeRozan felt that way immediately. He said he hung up on Ujiri when the executive called to deliver the trade news in 2018, as DeRozan detailed on “Club Shay Shay” with Shannon Sharpe.
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.”
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.