Raptors: Masai Ujiri returning to Toronto saved the offseason

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 have been through a very turbulent offseason over the last few months, and one of the main reasons for all of that commotion was the uncertainty surrounding Masai Ujiri and his place within the front office. When the 2020-21 season expired, so did Ujiri’s contract.

After a sterling job building the Denver Nuggets into a winner, Ujiri came to the Raptors in 2013. It’s no coincidence that right after Ujiri touched down in Toronto, the Raptors embarked upon the most successful period in franchise history, picking up a championship in the process.

Ujiri could’ve gone in several different directions now that he had this newfound freedom, including taking a basketball operations job outside of Toronto or a position outside of the NBA altogether. After weeks of uncertainty, Ujiri confirmed that he will be back in Canada.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Ujiri has agreed to a new deal to become the vice-chairman and president of the Raptors. Ujiri will still have the final say in basketball decisions while continuing his philanthropic work through his Giants of Africa charity.

Ujiri narrated a nearly three-minute-long video in which he espoused his love for the city of Toronto, the Raptors, and their fanbase. Quotes like “I love being the leader of the Toronto Raptors” show how deeply his passion for this city and this team runs.

The Raptors have some more boxes to check this offseason, but the biggest and most glaring need was Ujiri, and his return helped salvage the offseason and future of this franchise.

Masai Ujiri will keep building the Toronto Raptors into winners.

Ujiri’s role with the Raptors before this announcement didn’t seem to change much, as GM Bobby Webster claims that things were “business as usual” in the lead-up to a draft that saw Toronto add Scottie Barnes, Dalano Banton, and David Johnson.

While the Raptors did manage to retain Gary Trent Jr. in free agency, they had to say goodbye to Kyle Lowry, and it remains unclear what the sign-and-trade package coming back to Toronto will look like.

Even with those challenges, and the prospect of playing in an Atlantic Division that features title contenders like the Nets and 76ers as well as improved Celtics and Knicks teams, Toronto has to feel good about what the future looks like, as Ujiri’s Midas Touch will remain north of the border.

Ujiri took a promising team with some players that could eventually compete for a title, added his own unique scouting eye and aggression when it comes to making trades, and helped them come out as champions in just six years.

While the Raptors are eternally grateful for Ujiri, and no one could utter one bad word about him if he chose to walk away, Toronto has to like the fact that Ujiri is not only staying with the team, but ended up in an elevated role.

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