There may be confidence within the Raptors organization that Masai Ujiri will re-sign as team president, but Ujiri himself sounds like a guy who wants some assurances this organization is committed to winning before he signs on.
Ujiri spoke with reporters Wednesday and discussed his future and that of the Raptors, and he made it pretty clear he is in this to chase another ring. Via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:
“Let me tell you something, guys: everybody has forgotten what happened two years ago. OK, yes, we won. But nobody cares anymore, OK? We want to win another one. That’s what you want to do. Yeah, you want to prepare yourself to win another one. Not play in the play-in game, not play in the playoffs, you want to win a championship. Everybody’s like, ‘Why don’t you get into the play-in?’ Play-in for what? We want to win a championship here and we have to put ourselves in position.
“I want to know, ‘So, what’s the next lift? What’s the next five years? What’s the next 10 years? What are we doing to put ourselves in conversation with all the great teams and all the winners?’ That’s what we want to do, and that’s the conversation that I’m going to have with [ownership]. And, yes, I’m going to have asks, and I’m going to have a lot of things that I think we need to put forward here to address these things, and I think ownership is open to hear this.
“So, in terms of that conversation, that’s going to be had.”
That is someone laying the groundwork for negotiations. He’s had other asks before, such as locking up coach Nick Nurse and general manager Bobby Webster with longer deals (both of those contracts got done), but he clearly has more.
Ujiri and executives from Maples Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the owners of the Raptors, are expected to meet soon.
Ujiri could be the best free agent on the market this summer — this is the man who has transformed franchises in Denver and Toronto into winners and won a ring. Other owners have coveted Ujiri for years — he has been tied to Washington and New York (both organizations with locked-in front offices now) among others — and if he leaves the Raptors, Ujiri will have options.
Whatever he chooses, Ujiri will get paid. Daryl Morey set the bar with a reported $10 million a year to turn around Philadelphia; Ujiri is expected to make more like $12 million a season.
The expectation is he will remain in Toronto, but the negotiations are just starting.