The Toronto Raptors were finally able to put pen to paper on a new contract with Masai Ujiri, ending a period of uncertainty with a renewed commitment.
If there is one thing Masai Ujiri continues to show, it’s that he doesn’t underestimate his impact with the Toronto Raptors.
There aren’t many executives who hold a relationship like Ujiri does with Raptors fans and that was made clear with the announcement of his new contract with the team. It simply was not going to be good enough for it to be done with a simple press release.
Watching the video the Raptors released, it’s clear that the culture Ujiri and the team have been working to culminate remains a priority both on and off the court. There is a burden that Ujiri takes seriously as the leader of the team and now the pressure turns towards another title run.
While we don’t know how much Ujiri will be making in his new deal, there really shouldn’t be any complaints considering the value he provides and how the Raptors have taken major steps forward as a franchise. It’s also quite interesting to see him also being named the team’s vice-chairman.
As Sportsnet’s Michael Grange explains, this is looked at as a promotion with Ujiri getting a seat at the table for board of governor’s meetings and likely a bigger say within Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. It’s been made clear that Ujiri wants to see progress made with social justice initiatives that are important to him and society.
There’s never been a sense that Ujiri didn’t have the support from MLSE as the Raptors have pushed to be a more diverse organization.
"“Off the court, the work continues,” Ujiri says in the video. “(The) fight for equality in the justice system work; to prevent children from becoming child soldiers, to grow the game in Africa and build the infrastructure there so kids can have a place to play, to dream their dreams; to make sure young women and young girls are valued and included. These are global goals. Toronto is a global city. You give me the strength and inspiration to reach for that.”"
It’s quite telling that Ujiri’s commitment to the team did not change during this time as it was business as usual during the draft and free agency. It also says something that he made signing general manager Bobby Webster to an extension a bigger priority over himself.
Priority now shifts to building the next Toronto Raptors championship team
It’s hard to not see the departure of Kyle Lowry as a clear transition into a new era for this team.
What is a benefit to the Raptors is that the young core isn’t short on experience and that’s not by accident wither. Under Ujiri the team has prioritized youth and development while ensuring that there is a quality group of veterans to bring them along.
It’s certainly been a challenge to get top free agents to consider the Raptors as a top destination in free agency which is why the team has done to get the most out of their draft picks. This is also why Ujiri hasn’t been afraid to swing big on a trade and will likely try to work some magic again in the not-so-distant future.
This journey hasn’t had its fair share of bumps along the way but Toronto clearly sees a path forward with its plan and now has the full support of ownership behind it.
What do you think about Ujiri’s new contract with Toronto? Do you think he can help deliver another NBA championship? Let us know in the comments below.