Nuggets GM and current NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri couldn’t turn down the combination of more money and more power— he is leaving the Denver Nuggets to take over as the guy in charge of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors.
That according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Ujiri reportedly made $500,000 last year, so it’s hard to turn down the pay raise. And the increased power. Confirmation of this is expected from the teams soon.
Ujiri grew up in the Raptors organization, this was the one team that was a draw to him outside of Denver. Denver made a classy move letting Ujiri — whose contract didn’t expire until June — a chance to speak with Toronto. Ujiri gave them a chance to make an offer, but it appears the Nuggets couldn’t match.
Ujiri just won the NBA Executive of the Year award for how he rebuilt the Denver roster in the wake of Carmelo Anthony forcing his way out of town. He will be missed in the Rocky Mountains.
This is a real coup for Toronto — they had been a rudderless organization for years under Bryan Colangelo, a collection of players with seemingly no big picture plan or system.
Ujiri will bring a better big-picture view. There are some good players — Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas — on the roster but also a lot of questions about style and fit. Plus some tough financial decisions (they are at the luxury tax line for next season already if everyone comes back). Ujiri is the perfect guy to make those calls.
Denver will start its search for a replacement immediately. The draft is coming up in a month so there is a time crunch here.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.