May 31, 2013, 5:41 PM EDT
Nuggets GM and current NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri couldn’t turn down the combination of more money and more power— he is leaving the Denver Nuggets to take over as the guy in charge of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors.
That according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Ujiri reportedly made $500,000 last year, so it’s hard to turn down the pay raise. And the increased power. Confirmation of this is expected from the teams soon.
Ujiri grew up in the Raptors organization, this was the one team that was a draw to him outside of Denver. Denver made a classy move letting Ujiri — whose contract didn’t expire until June — a chance to speak with Toronto. Ujiri gave them a chance to make an offer, but it appears the Nuggets couldn’t match.
Ujiri just won the NBA Executive of the Year award for how he rebuilt the Denver roster in the wake of Carmelo Anthony forcing his way out of town. He will be missed in the Rocky Mountains.
This is a real coup for Toronto — they had been a rudderless organization for years under Bryan Colangelo, a collection of players with seemingly no big picture plan or system.
Ujiri will bring a better big-picture view. There are some good players — Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas — on the roster but also a lot of questions about style and fit. Plus some tough financial decisions (they are at the luxury tax line for next season already if everyone comes back). Ujiri is the perfect guy to make those calls.
Denver will start its search for a replacement immediately. The draft is coming up in a month so there is a time crunch here.
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