Here. We. Go.
The Toronto Raptors wrapped up the franchise’s first NBA championship with their Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night. The local angle, beyond the devastating injury suffered by Kevin Durant, came into focus moments after the final buzzer.
The official pursuit of Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri by the Washington Wizards could begin.
Overseeing all of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which includes Capital One Arena, the Washington Capitals and several other team properties. Personal compensation potentially reaching eight figures annually; Sources tell NBC Sports Washington discussions may begin around six years, $60 million. It’s possible an ownership stake in Monumental becomes part of the negotiation.
That report received a boost Thursday when ESPN reported similar details.
ESPN Sources: The Washington Wizards are preparing to make a prolific offer to Toronto's championship architect Masai Ujiri -- as much as $10M annually -- to run its basketball operations. https://t.co/KQf18YUkLN— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 14, 2019
We’ll see how quickly developments progress from here. Ujiri, 48 likely celebrates the championship for a few days before contemplating any next steps. Washington did not meet with Denver’s Tim Connelly until five days after the Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs.
There’s also the matter of Toronto’s ownership granting permission for Washington to meet with Ujiri, who arrived in Toronto in 2013. Don't assume that comes if at all.
MLSE owner Larry Tanenbaum when asked about @wojespn report that Wizards owner @TedLeonsis is attempting to recruit Masai Ujiri with a $10-million a year offer and an ownership stake: pic.twitter.com/vQPzhtYHDH— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) June 14, 2019
Even if Toronto's ownership relents on Washington meeting with their front office leader, the Raptors likely would demand compensation from the Wizards should Ujiri look to move considering he has two years remaining on the current contract. Sources believe Ujuri would receive around $7 million for each of those two seasons.
Back on April 30, NBC Sports Washington first began reporting why the native of Nigeria might be open to leaving a title contender for a Wizards team coming off a 50-loss season and facing numerous challenges moving forward.
The larger political platform Washington D.C. provides would help Ujri with his outside interests including the “Basketball Without Borders” program. Ujiri’s wife is also from the D.C. area.
Toronto's main off-season focus centers on re-signing Kawhi Leonard. The pending free agent became the first player in league history to win Finals MVP once from each conference. Though rumors have long sent the Southern California native to the Clippers or Lakers, perhaps the chance to repeat as champion alters Leonard's thinking. Without Leonard, Toronto's 2019-20 projections dim and perhaps opens Ujiri up for other opportunities.
That Golden State could be without Durant and Klay Thompson next season after both reportedly suffered significant injuries is another potential factor in Leonard's and Ujiri's decisions.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis fired longtime President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld April 2. Since then, VP of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard has held the interim title.
Indications have Sheppard running things for Washington during the June 20 NBA Draft. He might be elevated to the head job if Ujiri doesn’t arrive.
We’ll see what happens. Just as the NBA season closes, it’s now game on for the Wizards.
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