The Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group, led by (former Nuggets Team President) Tim Leiweke made their first big splash of the off-season by luring Masai Ujiri away from Denver. Ujiri, as we all know, was named the 2012-13 Executive of the Year and won't get to finish what he started in Denver.
Masai Ujiri has accepted Toronto GM job, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 31, 2013
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Masai Ujiri has agreed to a 5 year deal for $15 million with Toronto, league sources say.</p>— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) <a href="https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/statuses/340582075608494081">May 31, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Let's take a look at the past 10 Executives of the Year (EOY) with 2010-11 having co-EOYs:
|EOY||Won award with||Current team|
|2005-06||Elgin Baylor||Clippers||Out of league|
Of the 10 names above, four of them (or 40%) are not with the original teams anymore. Colangelo won the award in 2005 and at the end of the 2005-06 season he jumped ship in February from the Suns to the Raptors during the season. Baylor was dismissed (after 22 years as the Clips GM) before the 2008-09 season began for the Clippers. Warkentien's contract with the Nuggets was not renewed and he was gone from Denver on Aug. 3, 2010.
And now Ujiri becomes the second EOY general manager lured away by the Raptors since 2004-05. Ujiri is also the first EOY, out of the bunch, to not be brought back for any portion of the following season.
Ujiri was a busy man during his time with the Nuggets. He came to Denver in Aug. of 2010 and was famously charged with having to trade Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks during his first few months on the job. Looking at what the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors (while Ujiri was there), and Orlando Magic got in return for LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwight Howard you'd have to say the Nuggets did well in that Knicks trade - even though Masai famously claimed:
"We feel we got killed in the trade because we lost a couple of pretty good players,'' Ujiri said. "Obviously, Carmelo Anthony. I feel sad for the city of Denver. I feel bad that this was done on my watch. To lose a guy like that. And also Chauncey (Billups). But I think we had to do it.''
Including that trade, Ujiri brought in 19 different faces that played a role for the Nuggets on the court from 2010-2013. Every member of the Nuggets roster, except for Ty Lawson, was brought in under Ujiri's watch and Lawson agreed to an extension with Ujiri and the Nuggets.
Under Masai's watch the team compiled a 123-65 record after the Carmelo Anthony trade (a win percentage of .654), but just a 6-12 (win percentage of .333) record in the playoffs and three straight first-round exits.
Now the question is ... where do the Nuggets go from here? Could Denver possibly land another GM with a scout's eye for talent in Oklahoma City's Troy Weaver? Or will the Nuggets promote from within with either Vice President of Basketball Operations Pete D'Alessando getting more power or current scout Dan Tolzman getting a promotion? We will find out soon.
There isn't a fan in Nuggets Nation that wanted to see Ujiri go. Many fans will be upset that the Raptors were able to come in, throw big bucks at Masai, and Kroenke Sports Entertainment was unable to keep him. The bigger question though is why did the Nuggets not lock Ujiri up to a contract extension after the Philadelphia 76ers came calling in the 2012 off-season? The Nuggets could have set their own price and held onto Ujiri, instead KSE allowed another team to swoop in and steal their guy.
A sad day in Nuggets Nation.
Big questions now:
1.) What does this mean for Andre Iguodala? The guy that brought him in is gone - will Iguodala trust in the new plan in Denver?
2.) Will the Nuggets hire someone from outside the organization to come in and work on the draft before June 27th and free agency the first of July?
3.) What's the plan for the Nuggets moving forward?
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