Raptors stuck in holding pattern with Ujiri

It will up to Masai Ujiri, the reigning NBA Executive of the Year to decide which path to take the Raptors down. (AP/Barry Gutierrez)
May 27, 2013, 11:00 AM

The Toronto Raptors pursuit of Masai Ujiri to fill their vacant general’s manager position is in a holding pattern for the moment.

The Denver Nuggets general manager and reigning NBA Executive of the Year was offered the position over the weekend — with Yahoo Sports reporting that a contingent from MLSE met with Ujiri in Denver on Friday.

But according to multiple league sources it’s still not clear that Ujiri is ready to make the jump from Denver — a team he remade and which won 57 games last season — to the Raptors, where he got his start as an executive but a team that has missed the playoffs for five straight seasons.

A source familiar with the situation said that rather than the deal being close it was “far from it” with Ujiri now carefully working through competing opportunities, with the Nuggets having made a determined offer to keep him Denver.

“There has been an offer made, but there’s a little bit of a cycle to go through here,” said another league source.

The Raptors remain optimistic they can bring back Ujiri — he was director of international scouting, an assistant general manager and eventually Bryan Colangelo’s right-hand man with the Raptors before he was hired by the Nuggets in 2010.

It has been reported that Ujiri is the lowest-salaried GM in the NBA, earning about $500,000 a year, or half of the league’s average. According to NBA sources the Raptors have offered Ujiri a four-year deal worth about $9 million.

While incoming MLSE president and chief executive officer Tim Leiweke is pursuing other candidates for the job, league sources say that Ujiri is his top candidate.

Colangelo had the general manager’s title removed by Leiweke in an announcement last week. Colangelo will remain with the team in a business role but will also have input on basketball matters, although the new general manager will report directly to Leiweke and have final authority.

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