As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the current NBA Executive of the Year and former Raptors Assistant GM is heading back to Toronto:

The deal is being reported at 5 years, $15 million, which is a healthy sum for any front-office executive. But let’s forget about the money for a second (really, it’s a pittance for MLSE). What we have here – like we had when Brian Colangelo was initially hired, actually – is another sign that the Raptors’ front-office job is an extremely attractive position for top-level NBA executives (and having Tim Leiweke on board probably didn’t hurt, either).

It’s tough to make too many judgements on Ujiri and his record, given that he’s only been an NBA General Manager for the better part of two seasons. What we have seen, though, is his ability to make shrewd moves designed to build a contender around a team lacking a true superstar – possibly the most difficult thing for an NBA GM to do, and something that the Raptors will have to do, given their current roster construction and salary situation. By all accounts, he’s an extremely hard worker, a very smart basketball mind, and he’s loyal to the Raptor organization for giving him his start (and, barring that, he’s got 15 other million reasons to be). These decisions can always be second guessed down the road, but, for now, Masai was the obvious best fit for the job, so kudos to the organization for actually being able to land him.

I’ll avoid any speculation on the moves that Ujiri will need to make now that he’s running the basketball side of the organization (I’d imagine my fellow writers will have plenty to say about that), but his job isn’t going to be an easy one. The team is filled with redundancies, bad contracts, and one toxic situation in Andrea Bargnani that will have to be remedied in the very near future. There’s plenty of promise on the roster too, though, and some pieces to work with – the cupboard may not have what you’d prefer to eat, but it’s not exactly bare, either – and with a new face in the front office, I’d imagine quite a few personnel changes will be coming down the pipe soon.

The major dark cloud hanging over all this is the influence that BC will have, or not have, with the basketball decisions of the new regime. In this way, it’s bound to be a bit odd that Masai will be making decisions “over” his old boss in Toronto, and, if he had a spottier track record, it may be a cause for concern. But this is a man with his own management style, not a yes-man general manager, and, god willing, he’s been given his walking orders from Leiweke and the board to take control of the organization and steer the ship. Ujiri’s been reported as someone who prefers to focus solely on his basketball team, so if Colangelo can accept his role, the two’s relationship has the potential to become very symbiotic (they’re also good friends). Here’s hoping.

No, nothing’s certain when it comes to offseason moves. But, at least as far as we can tell at this point, the Raptors seem to have nailed the first step in moving this franchise out of the mire.


Further Reading:

  • Snip

    Nice!

    The “right reasons”: 0
    Money: 397402374093274097230497309740932740932740923740923740923750975047543675632645819369

  • Marz

    Let’s not forget something Ujiri inherited when he arrived at Denver. No, not Carmelo Anthony. He got George Karl, who is one hell of a coach, and should also be credited with how well Denver did without a superstar. Casey is a long way away from being as good as George Karl… just sayin’.

    • WhiteVegas

      Awesome job crapping on the Raptors after a fantastic move. Can’t you just celebrate the hire? Hiring Ujiri literally has nothing at all to do with Casey, so why complain about him here?

      • Marz

        I’m not crapping over the move. I’m tempering expectations :P.

        Especially after, “What we have seen, though, is his ability to make shrewd moves designed to build a contender around a team lacking a true superstar” If people are expecting a similar story arc to what Ujiri did in Denver, it won’t be long before several fans will actually be “crapping on the Raptors”.

    • FLUXLAND

      Karl one hell of a coach? Based on what? Dude, do you know how many first round exits this guy has to his name? Last I checked he made the playoffs 22 times and got bounced in the 1st 14 times. The guy that drove Vin Baker to alcoholism and mentally destroyed Shawn Kemp? You do know he was the coach when his no1 seed got bounced by the 8 seed Nuggets?

      He’s easily the most hated coach and over rated in the L. Where do you guys come up with this stuff?

      • Van Grungy

        “mentally destroyed Shawn Kemp”
        I’m sorry, I would think that he was mental in the first place, with the 30 kids with 25 hoes and all.

        • FLUXLAND

          Nothing to be sorry about. Slight exaggeration however – he has 7 kids and I don’ think that is what drove him mental. If you followed the Sonics back than, Karl absolutely abused him; while Gary thrived on that kind of coaching, Shaw eventually broke down.

          • Van Grungy

            😉 just a tad bit of exaggeration

            I think Kemp had too much of an easy time as a human freak of an athlete. When one grows up and gets through life on talent alone, when faced with demands for hard work and dedication, some men are found wanting.

          • Phat AlberG

            Shawn Kemp broke down after the NBA strike, he gained over 60 pounds over the strike season. And to blame George Karl for guy stuffing his face and making babies then so be it. Not given George Karl his due is pretty disrespectful, this guy knows how to win period. An also makes players better for example JaVale McGee, Cory Brewer and etc. Oh yeah I think he was the first coach with 50 plus team to make the playoff’s with no All Star! Yeah George Karl can’t coach lol, can someone please pass fluxland some toilet paper for his verbal diarrhea, because it’s making a mess everywhere.

            • FLUXLAND

              Who’s talking about Shawn post strike?

              And yes, I am blaming Karl. Ask Ray Allan how he feels about GK and his amazing coaching. Or let’s ask USA basketball about his dealing with players and that 6th place finish.

              He’s so amazing, he’s had a half dozen HOFers at his disposal, and managed to accomplish nothing.

              22 playoffs and 14 1st round exits. What exactly does he know how to win? Keep rolling in that GK diarrhea and calling it gold. He makes scrubs better. Let’s throw a parade.

              • Phat AlberG

                Uhm who won coach of year this year????? can you feel in the blank

                • FLUXLAND

                  Ummm so did Sam Mitchell. Can you read between the lines? Does someone not understand NBA marketing?

      • Marz

        Making it to the playoffs in the west isn’t exactly easy. The Nuggets over-performed this season, plain and simple. Other coaches would not have fared so well, in my opinion.

        Also, there are several fantastic coaches out there that didn’t “mesh” well with certain players. There is no one coach that suits every player personality out there.

      • ItsAboutFun

        “The guy that drove Vin Baker to alcoholism and mentally destroyed Shawn Kemp?”

        The kind of drivel that comes from someone who always blames someone else for his own screw-ups. If Vin successfully navigated recovery, he’d disagree with you.

        • FLUXLAND

          Oh so now you know about Vin’s recovery and thoughts; pray, tell us more.

          • ItsAboutFun

            I know a lot about both recovery, and people needing to not blame others for their &*$*ups. Something self entitled mental midgets haven’t learned yet.

            • FLUXLAND

              Great, congratulations. Now let’s talk about ball again. Or can we expect you to take what you see fit out of a comment and run with it in your self-righteous manner?

              • ItsAboutFun

                Your subject, kid. I’ll stick to basketball wherever you’re not playing ill-informed, uneducated psychologist about people you know virtually nothing about. Who do you blame for that?

  • rc

    This kinda seems like if you just broke up with your girlfriend, but she still wanted to live with you in the apartment for some reason. And now you’re dating her best friend.

  • WhiteVegas

    Awesome hire! Exactly who I wanted. Can’t wait to see what kind of moves he makes. Maybe we can snag a draft pick and start getting excited about the draft? Time for optimism people, cut out the complaining bullshit for awhile.

    • johng_3

      I wouldn’t want anybody in this draft. I think you just want something to get excited about

      • WhiteVegas

        Lots of good players in this draft, just no All Stars.

        • johng_3

          This is being considered the worst draft in a long while. Why should Ujiri waste his time with this crop of talent when he can wait for next years better draft.

          • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

            It’s not a matter of waiting or not waiting for next year’s draft. If the Raptors are going to rebuild, stocking up on a couple of draft picks now is probably a good idea. You probably won’t get a star player, but you might get a nice player or two you can develop and either keep or use as assets. And getting a draft pick or two isn’t going to stop the Raptors going after a top pick in 2014. In fact, having a couple of more rookies will actually help them tank.

            • johng_3

              The thing is, we have enough young talent, we don’t need to draft more rookies where we have to develop them who are not ready to contribute. We are trying to get into the playoffs next season. I’m not here to see the Raptors tank and I don’t think Leiweke or Ujiri are going to make this team a non-playoff team to just see us try to go for a top 3 pick in the 2014 draft.

              • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                Obviously we want different things. I don’t see this team being able to do ANYTHING other than make the playoffs, and if they want to go beyond just making the playoffs, it needs to be torn down.

                And if Leiweke felt differently, then why wouldn’t he just have kept Colangelo? I think he sees this team the same way I do. Massively overpriced, mostly mediocre or overrated players that have brought the team close to the luxury tax without having even remotely enough real talent to contend. This team is not a move or two away from contending. And even if they were, moving the contracts they have and getting back good value will prove extremely difficult.

                • johng_3

                  I don’t think we need a full rebuilding mode. You act like we need a whole reconstruction or something. We aren’t that far away than you think. Just move Andrea and grab another starting PF. We already invested in Rudy and DeMar, we have to live with that and see how they mesh with a full season. And with the improvements of JV, I’m sure we will be fine. I am not saying this team is a move or two away from contending, but your thinking like we are the Bobcats or something.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  If you think Gay and DeRozan are core players you can build on, then we disagree. I look at the current Raptor roster and think blowing it up is the best option.

                • johng_3

                  So your proposition is to tank and hope to God we get Wiggins or something. Like c’mon, we have strip and torn down this roster enough, we need some stability. I’m hoping Ujiri can make so key additions that can supplement the core of JV, Rudy and DeMar to help us move forward.

              • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                And if you haven’t already noticed. This team already is a non-playoff team. And there’s a decent chance they won’t be one next year, either.

  • Bendit

    In looking up a couple of Nuggets sites, the fans for the most part are despondent at the loss and at the “cheapness” of the ownership. Personally I fail to understand how they allow Ujiri to walk for not matching the Raptor offer when he put together a 57 win team for about 65 mill. Apparently he was greatly liked by his players and other personnel and met often with fan groups and community. Seems we are getting more than a good basketball mind.

    • FLUXLAND

      That’s if you actually think the built that team – he didn’t. Ownership not willing to keep him should tell you as much.

      • ItsAboutFun

        “Ownership not willing to keep him…”

        Typical fluxland BS. Since they made an offer, that isn’t true. They weren’t willing to pay the high salary that MLSE put on the table.

        • FLUXLAND

          Who said anything about an offer? An how does your babble negate the fact they didn’t keep him? If they found him to be as valuable as MLSE thinks he is, why did they not match the offer? Typical p00ka lack of comprehension.

          • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

            Let’s cut this out, please. I deleted both you and ItsAboutFun’s last comments because there’s no point in this argument. Just move on.

  • CJT

    Well I wonder What Cathal Kelly is saying today after his ridiculous column a few days ago. Just for a change he was talking out of his ass. I like this move and look forward to seeing what moves he can come up with to improve our Raptors. Go Raps.

  • SR

    The biggest difference here is going to be that Ujiri is so damn patient. Colangelo was the complete opposite.

    • Kujo

      Bill Simmons ‏@BillSimmons

      “Having a savvy GM who makes sound decisions, doesn’t panic and sticks to a plan is going to be a HUGE adjustment for Raptors fans”

      We do need to patient with Masai. Let’s see what kind of magic he can work with the cap mess well be in for the next two years. I’m hoping he finds away in this years 1st round of the draft, and can unload Andrea in the off season.

      • Copywryter

        Exactly. A GM who doesn’t succumb to the Moral Hazard of his trade – Making decisions (or avoiding them in the case of the panic trade) that are good for the team rather than good for his livelihood.

        • KC

          Moral hazard? check
          Sunk cost fallacy? check
          Hopefully Ujiri is less prone than was BC to the more common cognitive biases of our species.

  • johng_3

    I’m crying inside! Leiweke is a fucking boss

  • Amigo

    Fire D Casey. Get a true Coach !

  • NyAlesund

    Good luck Masai………..and revitalize this team………………please.

  • ckh26

    “The major dark cloud hanging over all this is the influence that BC will
    have, or not have, with the basketball decisions of the new regime.”

    BC will have as much influence on player personnel decisions of the Raptors as the other Bryan had on the Leafs after MLSE moved him aside. You don’t pay a guy 15M and then have him walk down the hall to ask questions on what he wants to do. So please lets drop that from the discussions going forward.

    His first order of business, depending on what he thinks the calibre of the roster is or was on his own measuring scale, will result in the continuence or the end of the Dwayne Casey era. With a new voice and plan the Raps co-tenants at the ACC went from an out of the playoffs for years position to the playoffs and made a decent showing with essentially the same roster..

    His second order will be to shape the roster into something more functional if he believes its out of whack. We seem to be overstocked on wing players and light on point guards and power forwards.

    Its tough when the off season is the big season for your team…. and the raps are heading into the big season.

    Here we go !

    • Copywryter

      I hope you’re right, but this is not the Leafs and BC’s role is larger – as is his backroom influence. I have my suspicions.

  • Bouncepass

    I think this is a good hire. However, let’s not forget that Masai inherited a pretty good team / franchise and coach. The Nuggets averaged over 50 wins in the 5 years before Masai took over as GM. They already had a good organization. He did a good job of trading Melo, but he was bound to get a good haul for that trade since there were two teams competing for him (Knicks and Nets). The point is that managing a team is really a long-term process, and with such small rosters what happens with one or two key players can really affect the future fortunes of the franchise. So, for example, if LeBron and Wade and the Heat hadn’t conspired to add Bosh to the Heat, BC would either still have Bosh or perhaps he would have been able to trade him for a much better return. BC probably hung onto Bargnani for too long, but the reality is that he would probably have been able to get a decent return before Bargnani was injured. Also, don’t forget that Bargnani gave some tantalizing play in Casey’s first season, so it is perhaps a bit understandable that both Casey and BC wanted to see whether he could fit with JV, etc. The Fields deal and the Gay trade had elements of desperation in them, but we should lay some of that blame on ownership. It seemed likely that BC was needing to make the playoffs to keep his job. Unstable leadership is bound to lead to panicky moves. MLSE should either have given BC confidence, or shown him the door last year. Instead, BC seemed to have the message that he needed to make quick fixes to make the team more competitive.

  • NyAlesund

    Finally. Bargs will be traded/amnestied within the second week of july.

    Now, we have to find a new target……………..after Carter, Bosh and Bargs………..

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I don’t think there’s any reason to boo him. I didn’t like him on the team, but I don’t bear him any ill will. Just be happy he’s gone (when it happens) and forget about him.

      • Matt52

        Very much agreed.

  • vino

    anybody knows when is the press conference?