The Raptors’ pursuit of Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri is kicking into high gear. Toronto received permission to speak with Ujiri, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke is aggressively pursuing Ujiri to become the Raptors’ general manager and plans to present an offer that will pay him nearly $3 million annually over the course of a multiyear contract, league sources said.
Ujiri’s contract with the Nuggets expires on June 30 and it’s possible an agreement can be struck that will allow him to leave sooner.
Ujiri is one of the NBA’s lowest-paid general managers, making below $1 million a year.
The NBA Draft is June 27, so for this to make sense, Ujiri would have to leave well before his contract expires. If the Nuggets are allowing Ujiri to speak with Toronto, it sounds like they’re amenable to working something out. And if the Raptors are will to give Ujiri $3 million per year, it sounds like they’d be willing to pay Denver a penalty – either directly or via Ujiri – for Ujiri breaking his contract.
If the Raptors can clear all the hurdles, this would be a major coup. Ujiri, the reigning Execute of the Year, successfully navigated the Carmelo Anthony trade and turned the Nuggets into a deep, exciting team. The Raptors’ roster and cap situation needs plenty of work, but Ujiri is the best candidate to fix those issues.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.
Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:
A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:
Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.