Masai, the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year, has emerged as the top choice of the search firm – Korn/Ferry International – that's been charged with finding a successor to Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, league sources said.
MLSE has until Monday to make a decision on Colangelo's contract option for next year. It is possible that he could stay with the franchise under a new top basketball official.
Ujiri's contract as Denver's general manager expires this summer and he has been in talks with ownership on an extension. Ujiri, 42, has a strong bond with Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke, but new MLSE top executive, Tim Leiweke, has expressed a desire to make a serious financial and organizational commitment to an elite executive to turn around the franchise.
Ujiri has developed into the most well-respected and sought-after executive in sports. Ujiri is the first African-born GM in North American sports, and his ascension to stardom from modest beginnings has become something of league folklore.
After three years under Colangelo in the Raptors organization – including the final two as assistant GM – Denver hired Ujiri in 2010 as GM. His handling of the Carmelo Anthony trade with the New York Knicks became the textbook example of how to get maximum value for a star player. Through the Anthony trade, deals for Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee and his draft acumen, Ujiri replenished the Nuggets' core into a Western Conference championship contender.
The Philadelphia 76ers pursued Ujiri for their GM job a year ago, but he declined their interest. Nevertheless, Ujiri's history in Toronto and the commitment of the MLSE company to resurrecting the Raptors could make this a harder decision for Ujiri, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Ujiri is one of the NBA's lower paid GMs.
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