One thing is for sure: Denver Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is going to be getting a raise this off-season. The team he will be working for is still to be determined. According to Doug Smith, beat reporter on the Raptors for The Star.com in Toronto, Ujiri will take a couple days to mull over the offers from the Raptors and Nuggets. The Raptors' offer appears to be in the neighborhood of $1.5 million per season, according to Smith.
According to one NBA source, Ujiri made about $500,000 on the last year of his Nuggets contract and could be in line for a significant raise; the Raptors are offering a deal in the neighbourhood of $1.5 million annually, sources contend.
"They (the Nuggets) are trying to keep him," said one person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The offer is $1.5 million?!? Surely, the Nuggets can counter with a competitive offer! The rumors of a deal in the $3 million per season range seem to be drastically exaggerated now. This isn't to say that Ujiri wouldn't be worth a big offer, but perhaps the Raptors don't feel the need to break the bank with some other candidates in mind. All speculation and guess-work by me on that.
What else could weight into Ujiri's decision? Let's break them down ...
The Toronto salary, according to sources, is far greater than the Denver offer but other factors will go into any decision made by the 42-year-old Ujiri, who spent three seasons in Toronto as an assistant general manager and director of global scouting.
Not the least of those will be Ujiri's fit in a revamped Toronto front office where Colangelo is now serving solely as the team's president without any final say on basketball matters.
Bryan Colangelo was Ujiri's boss in Toronto from 2007-2010 and it would be important for Ujiri to know that he won't have anyone coming over the top of him on basketball related moves. It's no secret that Ujiri has a good relationship with Bryan and it might be a tough spot to be the guy replacing him while he's still sort of around. Who knows how that would work?
Ujiri also has close ties to the Nuggets' father-and-son ownership duo of Stan and Josh Kroenke, who hired him away from Toronto and watched as he became the current NBA executive of the year.
This angle has been seriously downplayed in all of this. Ujiri and Josh work very well together and they are often together at practices, games, and press conferences. One could argue the duo is nearly inseparable. Include the scouts and other front office folks and you'll see this is a team making decisions for the Nuggets - and hopefully Denver can keep that team together.
The team I'm referring to?
Josh, Masai, VP of Basketball Operations Pete D'Alessandro, George Karl, Karl's staff, Director of Player Personnel Mike Bratz, Scouting Coordinator Dan Tolzman, Scout Herb Livsey, Video Coordinator Nashion Harper, Assistant Video Coordinator Jason Nygren, and probably a few others that I'm missing.
But Ujiri, according to league sources, doesn't want to take longer than a couple of days on a life-altering decision out of fairness to both organizations.
So, a decision should be coming in the next couple of days. Let's put some faith into Josh and his team and see what happens.
Big hat tip to reader: Take Five for linking us up with The Star story!
Be sure to sign our petition to KEEP MASAI IN DENVER!
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