Masai Ujiri has been connected to a number of other franchises over the last few years, after building the Toronto Raptors into a true contender and, in 2019, an NBA champion. He’s resisted those opportunities, and today, got a big new title with his franchise.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ujiri has agreed to become the team’s Vice Chairman and President. It is no surprise that Toronto wants to hold on to the person who acquired Kawhi Leonard, the one-year rental that launched the team to its NBA title a few years ago.
Even after that championship, there have been some rumors about potential moves for the popular front office executive. Leonard left after the title to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, and the team fell into a rebuild in 2020-21, after falling to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the NBA bubble in 2020.
Instead, he continues to rise up the ranks in the Raptors organization. He’s been with the team since 2013, and has helped them become one of the NBA’s most consistent franchises.
ESPN Sources: Masai Ujiri – architect of the 2019 champions– has agreed to a significant new deal to become Vice Chairman!President of the Toronto Raptors. Ujiri continues as both Raptors top basketball/business executive and a global philanthropist through his Giants of Africa.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 5, 2021
Ujiri landed his first general manager gig in 2010, when he took over the Denver Nuggets front office, after having served as the Toronto Raptors’ assistant general manager. He won the NBA Executive of the Year award in 2013, parlaying his success into a return to Toronto on a big five-year, $15 million contract.
Under Masai Ujiri, the Raptors are 401-235 with six first-place finishes in the Atlantic Division, one finish atop the Eastern Conference standings in the regular season, and the 2019 NBA Title. 2020-21 was the first sub-.500 season the team has had under Ujiri. The franchise received the No. 4 pick, taking Scottie Barnes from Florida State.
With Kyle Lowry leaving in free agency, along with the departures of Leonard and DeMar DeRozan in recent seasons, the Raptors are entering a very new era, but Ujiri will remain in place to lead them through it.