As one report after another links Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to the Knicks, Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum tells Michael Traikos of The Toronto Sun that there’s no reason to believe Ujiri won’t remain in Toronto beyond the expiration of his current contract in 2021. Given Ujiri’s track record, interest from the Knicks – and other teams – comes as no surprise, but the Raptors don’t plan to just let him walk away.
“He is the best,” Tanenbaum said. “But no team can come to talk to him. That’s tampering. And every owner knows that. Masai is here to stay.”
A recent Howard Beck report suggested that Ujiri has turned down a lucrative contract extension offer from the Raptors, but that was disputed this week by Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Tanenbaum confirmed to Traikos that Ujiri hasn’t rejected a contract offer.
“We haven’t talked (about an extension) at this point in time, but if you ask him, his intentions are pretty clear,” Tanenbaum said. Asked why the Raptors haven’t yet offered Ujiri an extension, Tanenbaum explained: “Masai has a contract that goes for another two years — this season and next season — so there’s really no need at this point (to re-sign him).”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reiterated in a report this morning that there have been no extension talks yet between Ujiri and the Raptors, but said Toronto ownership might make an offer in 2020 that expands Ujiri’s responsibilities and increases his compensation.
As Shelburne and Woj note, Knicks owner James Dolan has long been interested in Ujiri, who has consistently won trades with the Knicks, dating back to when he extracted a significant package for Carmelo Anthony as the Nuggets’ head of basketball operations. Dolan has privately expressed a fascination with Ujiri and shared those feelings with common friends, sources tell the ESPN duo.