With Giannis Antetokounmpo staying in Milwaukee, Paul George staying with the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard expected to do the same, Rudy Gobert staying put in Utah, and another potential big-name free agent in Victor Oladipo battling injuries, the biggest franchise-changing free agent this offseason may well be Raptors president Masai Ujiri. His contract is ending in Toronto.
However, there is growing confidence north of the border that Ujiri will resign with the Raptors and oversee their coming rebuild, reports Michael Grange at Sportsnet.ca.
There is a mounting confidence that there is a clear path for Ujiri’s return, and there will be a good-faith negotiation to find common ground on a deal that will extend the Raptors president’s tenure with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment from eight years until as far into the future as he wants to stay…
“They love him, and they believe in him,” said a source close to the MLSE board. “He’s won them a championship and they believe he’s going to win them some more…
“Masai doesn’t share a lot; he’s very private and strategic in his own way,” said the source close to MLSE. “But if you were asking ‘Are they going to sign Masai?’ I would put it at 95% yes.”
There have long been reports of Washington’s interest in Ujiri (although Tommy Sheppard seems locked in there). If Ujiri tested the market there would be NBA owners from coast-to-coast lined up to bring in the man who has transformed franchises in Denver and Toronto into winners.
One thing is clear, Ujiri will get paid. Daryl Morey got an estimated $10 million a year to turn around Philadelphia; Ujiri’s next contract is expected to be close to $12 million a season. While that’s a lot of money, it’s basically the cost of a very good backup point guard (think Jordan Clarkson) — money well spent considering Ujiri built a title team in Toronto that also has the best player development program in the league.