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.
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.
Ujiri confirms he has freedom to go into the luxury tax when they're in a position to win. When he talks about lifting the franchise, it goes beyond just tax spending. Infrastructure, advocacy with league, etc.
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.
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.
Statement from Masai Ujiri on his vindication from the incident in Oakland, via The Humanity Movement on IG: pic.twitter.com/P28Z4hrj5G
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.
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.
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.
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.