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Toronto Raptors to pursue Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri

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Let's hope the Nuggets don't give the Raptors an opportunity to steal Masai Ujiri.

USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors have pillaged a few assets from the Denver Nuggets over the years; from Linas Kleiza to Gary Forbes and they were rumored to be interested in Wilson Chandler when the forward was returning to the NBA from his stint in China during the lockout. Now, the Raptors are after their former employee: Masai Ujiri, reports Adrian Wojnarowski.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is pursuing Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri to take over as the top basketball executive of the Toronto Raptors, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Masai, the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year, has emerged as the top choice of the search firm - Korn/Ferry International - that's been charged with finding a successor to Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, league sources said.

MLSE has until Monday to make a decision on Colangelo's contract option for next year. It is possible that he could stay with the franchise under a new top basketball official.

Ujiri's contract as Denver's general manager expires this summer and he has been in talks with ownership on an extension. Ujiri, 42, has a strong bond with Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke, but new MLSE top executive, Tim Leiweke, has expressed a desire to make a serious financial and organizational commitment to an elite executive to turn around the franchise.

I'm not sure how much money will play into things, but it's interesting to note in Woj's article:

Ujiri is one of the NBA's lower paid GMs.

In my opinion, it would be a huge mistake to let Ujiri's free agent status come to fruition. The Nuggets need to get a deal done with Ujiri before he's able to test the waters. He has done a remarkable job since coming to Denver and his vision for the team has not yet been realized.

Let's hope Josh Kroenke can keep the Nuggets' front office in tact with Ujiri and Pete D'Alessandro staying put. The culture change in Denver has been taking shape under Ujiri's guidance and I think just about everyone in Nuggets Nation would agree.

Keep Ujiri in Denver.

And for fun ... with Ujiri earning the Executive of the Year he can easily reenact this famous scene: