The Knicks made the decision to part ways with Steve Mills on Tuesday, marking the end of his run as team president. New York is known to have a distinct interest in Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, but would he consider taking the job in The Big Apple?
Ujiri is widely-viewed as one of the most successful executives in the NBA. Last season, his Raptors claimed their first championship in franchise history. Beyond that singular accomplishment, Masai is known as a savvy businessman. He's completed several nice deals in Toronto, including one that brought Kawhi Leonard to town. The Knicks, who have struggled in recent seasons, likely value Ujiri's work ethic and record of success.
According to a report from Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Knicks have been in pursuit of Masai Ujiri since December. Stein notes that the Knicks feel like they have a real shot at luring the 49-year-old away from the Raptors. Whether or not that plan will come to fruition remains to be seen.
There have been strong rumblings since December that the Knicks believe they have a real shot to lure Masai Ujiri away from Toronto to take over. Of course, many also believed the Knicks knew they were getting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving when they traded away Kristaps Porzingis
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 4, 2020
Masai Ujiri, who is under contract through 2020-2021, could stand to gain a significant pay increase if he decides to join the Knicks, as they would likely be willing to offer a substantial contract. Team owner James Dolan would be happy to have landed his target:
Knicks owner Jim Dolan is targeting Toronto president Masai Ujiri to ultimately oversee New York’s operations, league sources tell ESPN. He is under contract through 2020-2021 in Toronto.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 4, 2020
Conversely, Ujiri could use the Knicks' pursuit as leverage against the Raptors in contract negotiations. Masai has enjoyed success in Toronto, and the team will likely be looking to keep him aboard.
Ujiri's decision to trade DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard was met with a fair amount of speculation from fans and members of the media. At that time, DeRozan was the longest-tenured member of the team. The decision paid off in the end, though, as Toronto managed to claim an NBA title behind a heroic effort from Leonard, who was named Finals MVP.
Would Masai Ujiri be open to the idea of joining the Knicks, though? Could he turn the historic franchise around? New York has a talented roster — one consisting of No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett, former Kentucky standout Julius Randle and trio of talented point guards (Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr.). However, the Knicks are currently struggling with one of the worst records in the league at 15-36 overall.
For now, Scott Perry will continue in his role as general manager of the Knicks, according to ESPN.
Several teams are said to be keeping a keen eye on Masai Ujiri. Some will be secretive in their pursuit, but the Knicks are clearly open about their level of interest.