As deadline day for Bryan Colangelo's 2013/14 option approaches, the Raptors are pursuing current Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri to take over their basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The head-hunting firm hired by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to whittle down the list of potential replacements for Colangelo identified Ujiri as the top choice, sources told Wojnarowski.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reported yesterday that the Raptors had until Monday to make a decision one way or the other on Colangelo, and that MLSE had hired a search firm to look into potential candidates — Wojnarowski identifies the firm as Korn/Ferry International.
Perhaps it's no surprise that the man who was named 2013's NBA Executive of the Year earlier this month would emerge as the top candidate for MLSE. But in addition to being more than qualified for the job, Ujiri is on an expiring deal. Although he has a strong relationship with Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke, Ujiri is only under contract until June 30th. It had been assumed that he and the Nuggets would work out a new agreement, but perhaps MLSE president/CEO Tim Leiweke could make a pitch and offer that would be enough to present Ujiri with a difficult decision.
Prior to becoming the Nuggets' GM in 2010, Ujiri worked under Colangelo in Toronto for three years, including two as assistant GM, so he does have a history with the Raptors, which could work in Toronto's favor. The 76ers made a run at Ujiri a year ago in hopes of hiring him as their GM, but he turned down the team's interest.