The New York Knicks have devolved into the NBA’s laughing stock in recent years, and it sounds like owner James Dolan has identified a saviour.
Dolan is planning an attempt to lure Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri to New York, according to The Athletic’s Frank Isola. Dolan is unfazed by the amount of money it would take to land Ujiri, per Isola’s sources.
This isn’t the first time Ujiri has been linked to the Knicks, with rumours of him being Big Apple-bound swirling back in 2017. The 49-year-old was also believed to be a candidate to take over the Washington Wizards’ top job this past summer.
Ujiri joined the Raptors as general manager in 2013 and has overseen the most successful period in franchise history, culminating with the 2019 title. He’s turned a middling franchise into a perennial playoff squad now equipped with a championship pedigree.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have not qualified for the post-season in six seasons and own a league-worst 2-8 record this year. New York notably struck out in free agency over the summer, failing to land any of the marquee names on the market.
By bringing in Ujiri, Isola reports the Knicks would hope to put themselves in play for Giannis Antetokounmpo when his contract expires after the 2020-21 season. Ujiri has long-standing ties to the Antetokounmpo family, helping them emigrate from Nigeria to Greece.
Ujiri is under contract with the Raptors through 2021, and Toronto’s ownership group would presumably pull out all the stops to retain his services. For his part, Ujiri has not wavered from wanting to remain north of the border and compete for more championships.
“For me it's always been about Toronto,” Ujiri said at his season-ending press conference. “I love it here. My family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is important. My kids are Canadian. I want to win more... in my mind, I'm here."
We’ll see if that still holds true in the future.
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