Raptors: Could Toronto survive if Masai Ujiri left for Washington?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 23: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 23: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors were a franchise that perenially ended up at the bottom of the NBA standings for the first 15 years of their existence, and the first time that this team was transformed into a constant winner was when Masai Ujiri took over as the president of the franchise. With Dwane Casey as the head coach and the dynamic duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt, Toronto made the playoffs in every season of Ujiri’s tenure, only to hit a LeBron-sized roadblock in the later rounds.

It was Ujiri who replaced Casey with Nick Nurse while trading DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, moves that handed the franchise their first-ever championship. Considering how quickly he overhauled the Raptors, several other struggling teams are desperate to replicate that formula by poaching Ujiri away. Per Bleacher Report, the Washington Wizards have inquired about Ujiri’s services to help them lead a turnaround.

The good news is that Toronto has a candidate to replace Ujiri in GM Bobby Webster, who reportedly signed a contract extension. The bad news is that it remains unknown if he can replace such a consistently successful executive.

Could Bobby Webster step in and replace Masai Ujiri as the main decision-maker within the Toronto Raptors?

Webster has been in the Raptors front office for the last few seasons, and he was without a doubt instrumental in making the trades for Leonard and Marc Gasol work, but he comes from a financial background given his time in the NBA’s Labor Relations Office. While that knowledge blended well with someone like Ujiri, who comes from a scouting and personnel background, it remains unclear if Webster has absorbed enough information to take the reigns when Ujiri leaves.

Ujiri has a long pedigree of success, as he was an Executive of the Year with the Denver Nuggets before taking on an increased role in Toronto. Asking Webster to replace him immediately could be problematic. Ideally, Toronto should look to bring in someone with a scouting background to work alongside Webster in the same way he once did with Ujiri, as that combination of talent evaluation and cap navigation has kept the Raptors competitive.

While replacing Ujiri is by no means an insurmountable task given how well-equipped Toronto is should he depart, Ujiri is one of the best executives in the game, and there could be a period of adjustment needed if he ends up becoming a Wizard.