State of the Raptors: Toronto in talks with Masai about extension

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The Toronto Raptors are looking to make their most important move in franchise history: Extending the contract of President and General Manager Masai Ujiri.

Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN report that the Raptors are in serious discussions to extend Ujiri, who still has two years left on his original five year, $15 million contract.

Ujiri has been the cornerstone of revitalizing the Raps, who have had their three best seasons in franchise history with him at the helm, culminating in Toronto’s first Eastern Conference Finals appearance this past year.

Masai, who instantly endeared himself to an entire nation when he proclaimed “F**k Brooklyn” during the Raps 2014 playoff matchup against the Nets, is also responsible for some of the major moves that have put together the Raptors squad we have today.

Ujiri started off his tenure with the most spectacular magic trick in the history of the NBA- getting somebody to actually pay Toronto to take Andrea “Il Mago” Bargnani off our hands. That deal ultimately led to this year’s drafting of Jakob Poeltl, among other considerations. Ujiri was also responsible to moving Rudy Gay; picking up Demarre Carroll; extending the contracts of Dwane Casey, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas; and signing DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to massive long-term contracts.

Ujiri has also created balance and depth on his squad from picking up pieces like Bismack Biyombo, Corey Joseph, and Jared Sullinger for inexpensive deals.

The native of Nigeria, who is currently in Africa where his Giants of Africa camps have kicked off in Senegal, was the first African-born general manager in professional sports, as well as the winner of NBA’s Executive of Year with the Nuggets in 2013.

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Despite Ujiri working out of Africa currently, his mind is still on the prize, adding guard Drew Crawford and centre Yanick Moreira to the Raptors roster yesterday.

Both players worked with the Raptors squad who took part in the Summer League session in Las Vegas, and both will likely end up working with Mississauga this season.

Crawford is a guard out of Northwestern, and split last year between the Erie Bayhawks and Israel’s top pro league. He averaged 16 points per game with the Bayhawks last year, and contributed eight points in 18 minutes per game during his run in Vegas.

Moreira represents Angola nationally, and averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The 6’11” centre spent last year playing professionally in Spain and France.

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