Masai Ujiri

It’s official: Denver’s Masai Ujiri named Executive of the Year


We told you this was coming and now it is official:

Denver’s GM Masai Ujiri has been named NBA Executive of the Year in a vote of his peers.

Gary Sacks of the Los Angeles Clippers came in second, Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets finished third.

Ujiri was the guy who walked into the Nuggets job just as Carmelo Anthony was forcing his way out of Denver. Ujiri handled that about as well as could be done — he got a big package of players in return (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, JaVale McGee) and then made some smart secondary trades such as turning Felton into Andre Miller and using a first round pick as part of the Andre Iguodala deal.

The result is a young, rebuilt team that won a franchise record 57 games and looks like a team on the rise — and we mean team, there are no ball dominating superstars on the roster.

Ujiri got 8 first place votes and finished well ahead of the pack with 59 points. The next six finishers in the race were all clustered between 28 and 23 points (in order of finish): the Clippers’ Sacks; the Rockets’ Morey; The Knicks’ Glen Grunwald; the Heat’s Pat Riley; and the Warriors Bob Meyers.

Rob Hennigan got one first place vote for his handling of the Dwight Howard disaster, Kevin O’Conner of Utah got a couple second place votes, and Billy King of Brooklyn got two seconds and one third.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.