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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
If front office changes after the season, two names being speculated around the league: Masai Ujiri and Sam Presti. https://t.co/85YiBsOxuv
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.
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.
The security officer who was involved in a physical altercation with Masai Ujiri after Game 6 of the NBA Finals says he suffered serious injuries as a result of the unprovoked attack from the Toronto Raptors president, and he has not ruled out filing a lawsuit.
David Mastagni, the attorney representing the deputy who says he was struck in the head by Ujiri, told KPIX 5 in San Francisco on Monday that the officer has been unable to return to work and is dealing with significant medical issues.
“He has a serious concussion; a templar mandibular joint injury, which is a serious jaw injury,” Mastagni said.
Mastagni described Ujiri’s actions as “an unprovoked significant hit to the jaw of the law enforcement officer,” and he said his client has been billed as a racist for stopping Ujiri from coming onto the court at Oracle Arena simply because he did not produce the proper credentials. He hinted that a lawsuit could be filed.
“All options are on the table. No options are off the table. … This is an issue of credentials or no credentials, not race,” Mastagni said.