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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Articles tagged: Masai Ujiri

Masai Ujiri gets new contract, promotion from Raptors

Masai Ujiri

There has been talk for years that Masai Ujiri could leave the Toronto Raptors, but the former NBA Executive of the Year has once again committed to remaining with the team.

The Raptors released a video on Thursday in which Ujiri said he is committed to bringing another NBA title to Toronto. He thanked the organization for continuing to have confidence in him and said he is “here to stay.” Ujiri, who is Nigerian, also spoke about his philanthropic efforts in Africa.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ujiri has a new title with the Raptors. He has gone from president of basketball operations to vice chairman and president.

Ujiri’s contract was set to expire later this year. He created some uncertainty about his future with the franchise a few months back. It has long been reported that other teams have prepared massive offers to pry him away from Toronto, but those will still have to wait.

Ujiri is widely considered to be one of the best executives in the NBA. He has rebuilt the Raptors multiple times and helped them win an NBA title two years ago.

Masai Ujiri shares thoughts on his future with Raptors

Masai Ujiri

Kyle Lowry is set to become a free agent this summer, but his contract may not be the one the Toronto Raptors are most concerned about. President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is also facing an uncertain future with the franchise, and ownership desperately wants to keep him.

Ujiri was asked by reporters on Tuesday about his expiring contract. He had nothing new to offer but said he is giving his future some “deep thought” as he and the Raptors get set to negotiate.

“We just finished (the season), so at some point, (I’ll) get with ownership here and sit down and talk … We’re going to weigh a few of the options and just give this thing some deep thought now as I go through this process,” Ujiri said, via Blake Murphy of The Athletic.

While his contract is set to expire later this year, Ujiri made it clear that he is still committed to finding a way to turn the Raptors back into a championship contender. He said he will have “a lot of asks” of ownership in terms of building a competitor, but he believes Toronto’s front office is all on the same page.

Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum has said numerous times that he wants Ujiri to remain with the franchise. Ujiri has given no real indication that he wants to leave the Raptors, though other teams are said to be preparing massive offers for him.

Ujiri is widely considered to be one of the best executives in the NBA. He has rebuilt the Raptors multiple times and helped them win an NBA title two years ago. If he wants a new challenge, there will be plenty of opportunities. At this point, however, there is no reason to believe he is seeking one.

Masai Ujiri issues statement on officer dropping lawsuit against him

Masai Ujiri

A law enforcement officer who sued Masai Ujiri over an on-court incident with the Toronto Raptors executive dropped his lawsuit last week. On Monday, Ujiri addressed the development in a statement.

Ujiri thanked “fans around the world” who “stood with me” as he faced allegations that he assaulted sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland after the Raptors won the NBA Finals in 2019. He said he will now try to help address racial injustices in the legal system.

Strickland accused Ujiri of striking him in the face and chest after the officer would not allow Ujiri to join the on-court celebration at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Raptors had just defeated the Golden State Warriors. The deputy said he suffered “physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries.” He sought $75,000 in damages.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office initially pursued a misdemeanor complaint against Ujiri for battery of a police officer. Strickland later said he had a concussion from the incident.

Video footage that was released last August showed that Ujiri was looking past Strickland and only halfway pulled out his credential when trying to gain court access. However, Strickland appeared to escalate the situation by using an excessive amount of force, at which point Ujiri shoved him back.

Ujiri has been with the Raptors since 2013. He is considered one of the best executives in the NBA.

Masai Ujiri video released from 2019 security guard incident

Masai Ujiri

Video was released on Tuesday from the infamous Masai Ujiri incident after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship last year.

Ujiri was accused of hitting sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland in the face when trying to get onto the court to celebrate the Raptors’ Game 6 victory. At the time, we only had a video that showed the two being separated after the alleged incident.

Now we have more videos of what transpired.

Beware of the bad language used by Strickland in the video:

The video shows that Ujiri was looking past the security guard and only halfway pulled out his credential. He tried to walk past the guard, thinking there was no issue since he is a Raptors executive. Instead, Strickland responded with physical force, pushing Ujiri back harshly two times.

The amount of force used by Strickland was unnecessary and escalated the situation to an unnecessary level. Ujiri ended up pushing Strickland back.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office pursued a misdemeanor complaint against Ujiri for battery of a police officer. The deputy later said he had a concussion from the incident.

Strickland filed a federal lawsuit against Ujiri and the Raptors over injuries he allegedly suffered. He also filed a workers’ compensation claim.

Ujiri’s legal team released a statement saying the claims were without merit.

Ujiri, 50, joined the Raptors in 2013 and helped build them into a championship team.

Masai Ujiri says he still has a lot to do to mend his relationship with DeMar DeRozan

Masai Ujiri Raptors

Masai Ujiri is keeping it real about where he stands with former Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan nearly two years after he dealt DeRozan away.

In an interview with TNT’s Ernie Johnson on Monday that aired on the NBA’s social media accounts, the Raptors GM said he had mended his relationship with ex-coach Dwane Casey but still had a lot of work to do with DeRozan.

“It’s not easy,” said Ujiri, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “If you have that human part of you, you feel it in your heart. I will never ever forget having to do that with Coach Casey and walking to his office, waking up that morning. Many times I wanted to move it and change it or think that you’re not making the right decision. It was incredibly hard, because Casey is an incredible person, and so great to work with … DeMar, I was in the hotel in Kenya, and I walked around that hotel at 4 a.m., 5 a.m. for a couple hours, trying to gather up enough strength and courage to make this phone call. I will never forget it.

“With Casey, it has gotten so much better now with his family and him,” Ujiri added. “With DeMar there is still plenty of work to be done. But, by the grace of God, it will all get better. We have to continue to make these decisions that are tough. But that’s the business of basketball, and the position we are in.”

Casey was let go as Raptors coach following the 2017-18 season, his seventh in charge, and has since become head coach of the Detroit Pistons. DeRozan, a lifelong Raptor, was traded to the San Antonio Spurs weeks later in a deal that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. The moves ultimately paid off when Leonard and new head coach Nick Nurse led the Raptors to the 2019 championship, their first in franchise history.

There was some recent buzz about DeRozan potentially returning to Toronto, but it sounds like there is still a gap with Ujiri that would have to be bridged before that even becomes a possibility.

Masai Ujiri sued by police officer for alleged NBA Finals assault

Masai Ujiri Raptors

A police officer has filed a lawsuit over allegations that Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri assaulted him after Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals.

The officer, Alan Strickland, claims that Ujiri struck him in the face and chest with both fists while attempting to access the court following the Raptors’ NBA title clincher, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Strickland claims that he “suffered injury to his body, health, strength, activity and person, all of which have caused and continue to cause Plaintiff great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.”

Strickland and his wife Kelly are seeking various damages as a result of the alleged assault. They are also suing the Raptors, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and the NBA, claiming they failed to provide adequate safety and security and did not “post signs warning of danger, including the danger of Masai Ujiri.”

These accusations were made immediately after Game 6, and the Alameda County Sheriff sought charges against Ujiri at the time. Those charges were dropped months later, and one alleged witness claimed the incident never even happened.

Masai Ujiri responds to rumors of Raptors departure

Masai Ujiri Raptors

Though it appears he isn’t going to the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri is regularly linked to other posts across the league.

Ujiri, one of the league’s most respected executives, was somewhat evasive when asked about his future with Toronto, but did say he would “always be a Raptor.”

It’s worth noting that Ujiri is traveling Africa with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, so this was a non-basketball environment. Ujiri may not have wanted to make any major proclamations about his future in that setting, especially when it isn’t really in doubt in the short term.

For now, Ujiri is staying. He’s linked to pretty much every high-profile executive opening, however, having also been linked with a move to the Washington Wizards last summer. He has it pretty good in Toronto right now, and there is no indication that he’s looking to exit anytime soon.

James Dolan has ‘lost his desire’ to chase Masai Ujiri?

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The New York Knicks were immediately linked to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri after firing president Steve Mills, as the franchise has long been interested in his services. Owner James Dolan, however, may have lost the appetite for such a pursuit.

Speaking Wednesday on the “Woj & Lowe Trade Deadline Show,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said his growing belief is that Dolan is simply no longer willing to try to clear the hurdles that would be associated with a pursuit of Ujiri.

“As much as he’s coveted Masai Ujiri, the hurdles that it would take to get there from draft compensation to Toronto allowing him out of his contract to Masai wanting to do this, he seems that he has lost his desire to go forward and chase that,” Wojnarowski said.

Initial reporting from Woj himself stated that Ujiri would be the Knicks’ top target, but that talk has cooled quickly within 24 hours. Dolan appears to want a quick resolution to this job search, and chasing Ujiri might require a more drawn-out process. Walking away from Ujiri may also be easier if, as reported, other top executives want the Knicks job.

Ultimately, there’s little clarity on where this search will land. It does appear, however, that the chances of the Knicks landing Ujiri are rapidly decreasing.

Report: Masai Ujiri, Sam Presti could be possibilities for Knicks’ front office

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The New York Knicks have already put head coach David Fizdale on the hot seat and may also look to make changes to their front office. If the Knicks change up their front office, some names have already emerged as potential targets for the team.

The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported on Tuesday that Masai Ujiri and Sam Presti have emerged around the league as executives the Knicks might target.

Bondy further reported Trajan Langdon could be another name in the mix.

Steve Mills has served as Knicks team president and Scott Perry as GM since 2017. The two are in their third season leading the team, and the tenure has not gone well. The Knicks had the worst record in the league last year (seemingly by intention), and at 2-8, they have started out as one of the worst teams this season.

The Knicks have been a bad franchise for a while, and most of that is due to poor ownership. Hiring Ujiri or Presti would help them turn things around, but one has to wonder whether either of the two would have interest in working for James Dolan.

Raptors’ Masai Ujiri issues statement on Kawhi Leonard departure

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have issued their first public statement since learning Kawhi Leonard was leaving the organization.

Team president Masai Ujiri thanked both Leonard and Danny Green for their contributions to the Raptors’ title run, wishing them the best for the future while affirming the organization’s intent to continue winning championships.

It’s a fairly by-the-book statement, but a nice gesture all the same. Leonard’s legacy especially is quite secure after winning Finals MVP, and he’ll be long remembered in Toronto for his contributions, even if his tenure there only lasted one season. His year was so memorable, in fact, that it’s unlikely that any Raptor will wear his No. 2 again.