BREAKING: Masai Ujiri leaving Nuggets for Toronto Raptors

The news Nuggets fans have been dreading for a week straight became a reality Friday afternoon. The Toronto Raptors ongoing pursuit of former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri is complete with Masai agreeing to a five year deal to become the Raptors’ next general manager.

Woj’s tweet was corroborated a few minutes later by CBS4’s Vic Lombardi, who confirms Ujiri himself has announced he’s out as the Nuggets’GM.

It’s a tough reality for the Nuggets, who now have to start looking forward to an uncertain summer after one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. Obviously we will have a lot more coverage of what this means going forward, but Masai ended up signing the rich deal we all feared a savvy NBA team might offer in order to pry away the executive of the year.

Toronto did what it took to get him and for a hard worker with as humble beginnings as Ujiri, it is major success story. Congratulations to Masai.

UPDATE: The Nuggets have released a statement regarding Masai Ujiri. Team president Josh Kroenke announced a search for a new executive and the departing Masai Ujiri offers a few quotes as well. Read the full text on the Nuggets official website here.

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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • TomRMC

    It’s also been confirmed by Hochman at the Denver Post (who says he got a text from Ujiri):

  • Tom

    I can’t believe the nuggets let Masai go! This is a dark day for the nuggets. I can only hope now that he trades us jonas haha…. Nice knowing you. Now we can pay Karl and stay mediocre once again. Offseason plans should be interesting to see unfold

  • herpderpnuggets

    This is probably some of the worst possible news a nuggets fan could hear this year, next to iggy not re-signing. Which may be hard to do without Masai.

  • James Murray

    The stingy Kroenke family does what it does best, it underpays and thier teams suffer the price … please just sell my beloved Arsenal to Usmanov, and Nuggets to some rich American, these guys lack some serious ambition

  • dynamo.joe

    Fantastic! We lost the guy we had to keep and keep the guy we had to lose. Way to go Krankies!

  • joefresco


  • pgwarner

    The guy backed out of a deal he agreed to. Quit acting like the owners were disloyal to him. He is not the second coming.

    • David Tesler

      Ujiri is disloyal to the Nuggets. He is nothing but a greedy a$$hole that will never make it in Toronto. I expect a firing within two years of non-playoff action, and it will point to Ujiri. And no, he won’t be welcome back to Denver anymore. Pack up and leave, Masai. F$ck you.

    • Charlie

      That’s a very interesting angle to the story that we haven’t heard much on. I’m not saying you’re right or wrong, but I had never thought of it until you brought it up.

      It doesn’t exactly matter to either team anymore, but I wonder if we’ll hear the Nuggets mention it at all in the future.

      • pgwarner

        I went to look up just where I read that he agreed on Google news and now its flooded with the news he did leave. I read it in more than one place. Josh said they had agreed before he met with the Raptors. The idea was let him take the meeting as you don’t want a disgruntled guy. Yeah, I read it in three places.

      • pgwarner
        • dynamo.joe

          “In my mind we had an agreement”, ya, that sounds ironclad.

          I’m sure both of you imbeciles would reject a 3x pay increase to do the same job for another company.

  • David Tesler

    Ujiri will never get what he wants in Toronto. Nobody is going to build a championship caliber team with the garbage they have there. It’ll take Ujiri a minimum of 4 years, time that Toronto doesn’t have.

    • Christopher Reinhard

      Well, he signed a five-year deal, so it kind of seems like they have the time.

  • tytechortz

    Ujiri gave us Karl and Miller for years. Did he really do anything in the Melo deal that any other GM wouldn’t have done? NY was desperate to get him. I loved his drafting of Faried and I think he has made a few other drafts and trades that were nice. I like the guy, but is he really that special? What good are the assets he brought here when he keeps a coach that won’t develop or use them? Unless Ujiri wanted to get rid of Karl and bring in a coach that would develop all the young players, and wasn’t allowed to do that by the owners, I don’t think this is that big a deal.

    • googergieger

      Coaching isn’t up to the GM, it’s up to the owners.

      • dynamo.joe

        That’s what I have heard, that it is Stan that is making the call on Karl.

        We don’t actually know that he left for the money, although that alone would be mighty compelling. Maybe he left because the Kroenke’s refused to give him the authority to choose the Coach.

        • googergieger

          I think he only cared about getting players. Especially to fit Karl’s system. I think the only reason he resigned Miller was because of Karl as well. Another team offered him a lot more money, a lot more power, and a lot more respect. Easy to see why he took the other deal. Mind boggling to see why Kroenke’s would let him go and chose to stick with Karl who didn’t seem to do much right in the playoffs, which includes not giving any meaningful time to MacGee in the regular season to work on his game, and never holding anyone accountable that wasn’t a rookie or Javale.

      • Mikey K

        It would make sense. Ujiri keeps talking about a “process” in terms of what he was building here in Denver. I don’t wonder if part of that process is coaching/teaching/leading.

        If Stan is set on Karl, I can see that as a major impediment to the completion of the “process”. Eventually you want to use some of that depth to get what should be the one missing piece to the puzzle. If Karl’s penchant for pissing off stars is true, keeping him is not a good thing.

  • googergieger

    So keep Karl, bye to Masai, and what else? People felt like the world was falling when we got bounced out of the first again. Now it does seem rather pointless. No idea if Iggy comes back. Gallo isn’t going to come back for quite a while and won’t be back to form for even longer. Karl around means, Koufos starts again and Miller is leaned on heavily again. McGee probably isn’t given any serious time to get better. If Iguodala is gone what happens? Does the new guy give a max to Josh Smith or someone of the like? Sigh. If only the Denver media like Hoch and company had the balls to criticize the organization. I mean I guess there is Kiszla, but he is just as obvious a troll as you can be.

    • lcoreyl

      a max to Josh Smith is exactly what I’m talking about when i say having a good GM can SAVE you money–even at 5 years/$15mil

      • Mikey K

        What makes you sure Josh Smith or any other “name” in the league wants to come here when Melo couldn’t leave fast enough? That raises eyebrows of other players.

        • googergieger

          Cause Melo is one dimensional personified, and Josh Smith and a few others are interested in the biggest and best contract available. Karl might be the biggest put off right now on account of his track record and awful performance in this year’s playoffs. Suffice to say, I doubt anyone takes Melo’s advice on anything basketball related outside of scoring, probably.

          • Mikey K

            Karl definitely would be a put-off to prospective FAs looking at Denver’s money. He might eventually wake up and realize the players run the league now….and I might win the Powerball this weekend.

  • chronosynclasticinfundibula

    I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this news.

  • Warner Dean

    Just one more thorn in the side of Nuggets fans. The Kroenke’s aren’t making it easy to be one these days. For them to even let it get to this is astounding and shows how cheap they really are. I’m becoming more and more disenfranchised with these guys.

    • Gordon

      I don’t think it was about the money, I think the Kroenkes wanted more credit for the basketball decisions themselves, and this gives them that chance to prove it. I think they honestly didn’t believe Ujiri should have been paid more than what they were offering, they’re just delusional enough to think that they can make basketball decisions.

      On the bright side, if we bring in an outside GM, maybe Karl doesn’t get his extension?

      • joefresco

        That kind of pride usually results in fail. See:
        Jerry Jones, Jimmy Dolan, Steinbrenner (first decade), Dan Snyder, Al Davis (last decade or two)

        An owner has to get out of the way to let his personnel guys make moves. If they want more credit, then we are all going to pay the price.

    • googergieger

      I hope enough Denver fans hold them accountable. Not going to bother with next season myself with Karl at the helm again. Hope enough Denver fans get on the Denver media to hold people accountable already. But you know, Denver doesn’t really seem to care about basketball. I mean some die hards online. Besides that, everyone seems to just treat it as a nice night out, with the playoffs as the ceiling.

  • heykyleinsf

    The Kroenkes could have tried. They obviously didn’t. WTF.

  • Mikey K

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the only sports owner in Denver worth anything is Pat Bowlen. He knows it takes money, talent, dedication, commitment, and hard work to win Championships. The Kroenkes have the money and not much else.

  • D3Ntilthe3ND

    I’m thinking Masai’s not gonna be in the NBA much longer anyway. He’s got serious ambitions in Africa & money is the key thing to those ambitions.

    Can’t blame him. 5 years with Toronto get his money & head back to Africa.

  • Aaron

    This is sad. . . but I’m sorry, I’m glad we’re not paying him 3 mil. That’s outrageous for a GM. Let’s just promote D-Alessandro and keep things moving in the same direction. We might lose Iggy if he feels like things are unstable, but we just couldn’t pay him 3 mil a year. That would’ve been dumb on Kroenke’s park.

    • Mikey K

      Except that D’Alssandro may go north of the border, too.

    • dynamo.joe

      You are right, it would be stupid to pay the most important man in the organization as much as you pay scrub bench players.

  • Andy Yo Lopez

    as a die hard nugs fan. I thought masai was the best things the team had going for them. But i hope that masai does absolutely terrible in toronto. For the owner’s sake.

  • Poz303

    My understanding is that Masai Ujiri is under contract till June 30th, the NBA Draft is June 27th, will he be heading up the Nuggets 2013 Draft?

    • toluene hawk


    • Native Nugget

      Love that question. The least he could do for the Nuggs after they gave him a break, negotiated with him and then still let him go sniff around for more cabbage, – is draft us one more gem.

      Sad to see him go. I feel like it was a flat out mistake to no get his contract handled and signed BEFORE last season started. For what ever reasons – the Kroenke’s decided to gamble and wait, bad decision with a bad outcome. Now all we can do is move on and play the next hand. Hope they find a hard working, wicked smart replacement with a willingness to take the necessary risks to go after a championship.

  • jug2000

    Toronto is not a team that’s known for making stellar moves so if consistency means anything, they are probably over-paying Ujiri. I’m not a Kroenke fan but maybe they know something that we don’t.

    Time will tell on this one.

  • sherlock

    Just out of curiosity why should Fansisco Elson F$ck off??

    • lcoreyl

      sorry, forgot my sarcasm tags around that last line. I just don’t understand the anger that comes when high profile people leave the Nuggets, and thought it would be funny if someone got mad when Elson signed with the Spurs (he was the only significant-minutes player I could think of that I was glad when they left).

      • sherlock

        hahaha i get it now!! I agree though, Melo didn’t want to be here, I’m glad he gave us the opportunity to get something in return for him. You can’t fault these guys for leaving for more money if they can get it elsewhere.

        The thing that gets me about losing Masai is we could have locked him at any point up until the last month of his contract he probably would have been happy even if the Toronto job opened up. While I agree 3 mil a year is a lot to pay a front office guy, he made a lot of moves that improved this team drastically. And honestly, 3 mil a year is nothing, if we are really trying to build something here. We could have been at the bottom of the west after Melo left, but we have still made the playoffs and are fun to watch. I believe that is a direct reflection on the moves the front office has made.

        I hope we can transition smoothly through this, I don’t know how this will affect us signing Iggy. Players liked Masai. I have been a nugget fan all my life, that will probably never change, I just wish we had ownership that cared about winning as much as say Mark Cuban.