Every year it seems like Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is the number one choice for every NBA front office needing a facelift. After doing wonders for the Denver Nuggets, Ujiri has settled into Toronto quite nicely.
One team that is expected to reach out to him again is the New York Knicks. After recently firing head coach David Fizdale, New York will once again be looking for a full-time head coach when the 2019-20 NBA season comes to a close.
Today we will go over Ujiri’s time in Toronto and the reason we expect him to say no to New York again.
Masai Ujiri builds a title contender
Since joining the Raptors in 2008, Ujiri has made an immediate impact on the team. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan leading the backcourt, the Raptors made four straight trips to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Unfortunately, they had to deal with LeBron James, who ousted them each time.
When LeBron left the East for the Lakers, a trip to the NBA Finals was wide open. Ujiri made the unprecedented move of trading his star in DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, who grew into a star in San Antonio.
The trade paid off as the Raptors finished with the No. 2 seed in the East, only three games behind the Milwaukee Bucks. Led by Leonard, the team used suffocating defense on some of the game’s biggest stars to win the team’s first championship. Although Leonard left for the Los Angeles Clippers during this past offseason, the cupboard isn’t bare in Toronto.
The team steal has Lowry, Fred Van Vleet, and a star in the making in Pascal Siakam, who has become a top-10 scorer in the game.
Would Ujiri go to the Knicks?
Would Ujiri leave Toronto for the bright lights of the Big Apple? The Knicks have been one of the most disappointing franchises in the NBA since Patrick Ewing left the team. It’s no stretch to say the Knicks have the worst front office in the NBA. The most successful teams in the NBA are built upon consistency, and the Knicks don’t have that in the front office or on the basketball court.
New York offers the biggest stage and the brightest lights, and if Masai Ujiri delivered an NBA title there, he’d never have to pay for another restaurant meal in the city. However, the negatives of the Knicks far outweigh the positives.
Owner James Dolan is so reviled in the NBA that free agents hardly consider signing there. The team doesn’t stick with a coach for more than two seasons, and it reminds us of a lower-tier SEC football team fan base with the expectation of excellence without the consistent work being put in. As it stands now, the Raptors are the much more stable franchise.
Another poorly-run franchise in the Eastern Conference tried to pry Ujiri away from Toronto with a big salary and other benefits, and he said no. That’s why we believe New York is out of the question for him.
Washington, a carbon copy of New York?
The Wizards haven’t won 50 games in the franchise’s existence, and with the current state of the roster, a new leader of basketball operations is the only thing that can turn the team around.
Poor contracts for Bradley Beal and John Wall have kept the team from building out a competitive roster. Scott Brooks could be fired before the end of the year, John Wall may not ever play at his former All-Star self, and Beal won’t be able to be moved until June after signing his extension.
This type of dysfunction is clearly in line with that New York has dealt with under James Dolan. How would Ujiri feel about public comments coming out about a coach he hires in the way team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry did after a blowout loss in 2019?
Everything about the Wizards situation in 2019 screams of continued dysfunction and stress, and we think Ujiri would be crazy to leave a team with another chance to make the NBA Finals for a team that has had 12 coaches in the last 20 NBA seasons. That’s why we feel he will stick with the Raptors for at least a few more seasons before accepting his next challenge.