Report: Raptors co-owner called Masai Ujiri, badmouthed him during contract negotiation

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, General Manager of the Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri, Lawyer and Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver and former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Timothy J. Leiweke
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The best thing the Raptors did this offseason: Retain Masai Ujiri as team president.

But not everyone within Toronto ownership was on board.

Edward Rogers was apparently very against Ujiri’s deal – until getting overruled by the franchise’s governor, Larry Tanenbaum.

Christine Dobby and Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:

Other sports franchises from around the world were chasing Ujiri, according to an NBA source. One NBA team’s offer included a three-per-cent ownership stake along with a salary that eclipsed the $15 million per year deal he ultimately struck with MLSE.

[Rogers] told his partners he felt the compensation was too high, and, according to the MLSE sources and a source close to the NBA, Rogers was convinced the Raptors could be managed without Ujiri’s help by existing general manager Bobby Webster.

The sources said some time after the meeting, Rogers called Ujiri and told him he wasn’t worth the money he was being paid. The NBA source said the call left Ujiri feeling so angry and disrespected by Rogers that he considered taking a year off as president of the Raptors.

The sources said Tanenbaum preferred to reach compromises with his partners, but in this case, he decided to overrule Rogers and sign Ujiri.

Rogers was furious, the sources said, and he and Staffieri tried to plead their case with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s general counsel Rick Buchanan. The two NBA officials told Rogers that Tanenbaum had the right to make a call on the contract, according to the sources.

This is mostly standard fare – an employer and employee engaging in tense negotiations over salary, infighting between multiple owners of a company and an NBA non-controlling owner believing he holds more power than he does/complaining about it.

Rogers calling Ujiri directly with harsh comments could be beyond the norm. Ditto Rogers going as far as imploring Silver.

But it’s also good for there to be a check on executive compensation. As chair of Rogers Communications – a publicly traded company that owns a share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors – Edwards had a fiduciary duty.

Ujiri is worth what someone will pay him. According this report, another NBA team offered even more than Toronto did. He’s arguably the NBA’s top executive.

Which is why he got such a lucrative contract in the end.