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Report: Raptors’ Masai Ujiri nearly took a year off after diss by MLSE board member

Raptors, Masai Ujiri

Toronto Raptors head honcho Masai Ujiri recently got a promotion, but evidently it came with quite a bit of drama that explains why there was some mystery surrounding his future with the franchise before he finally got his new title.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment board member Edward Rogers fought the plan to give Ujiri that promotion, according to Christine Dobby and Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Rogers apparently didn’t think Ujiri was worth the money and that the Raptors could be run by general manager Bobby Webster. Rogers basically even told Ujiri this in a phone call after a meeting, prompting the Raptors executive to consider taking a year off.

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MLSE then went into “damage-control mode” and worked to assure Ujiri that everything would work out and that he would be protected from Rogers’ sabotage. Ujiri had MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum on his side, so that certainly helped matters. The Raptors executive wound up getting his promotion in August, becoming vice chairman and president of basketball operations.

While everything worked out, this definitely helps explain why a deal wasn’t done sooner. There was some speculation about Ujiri going elsewhere, and he got some good offers, but ultimately the right thing was done and he’s still part of the team with a $15 million annual salary. Ujiri has been with the Raptors since 2013 and built the franchise’s first-ever championship team.

Given all he has done for Toronto, Ujiri should essentially have a job for life. It’s a good thing the crisis of Ujiri leaving was averted.