On Thursday, the Toronto Raptors announced that they re-signed President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri to a multi-year extension. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Ujiri will now have the title of Vice Chairman and President of the Raptors. Ujiri’s previous contract was set to expire, setting off rumors on social media that he would go elsewhere, since he may have been interested in rebuilding another team to champion status like he did in Toronto during the 2018-19 season.
Ujiri was linked to the Wizards’ front-office vacancy in 2019 soon after then-President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld was fired, especially after the Raptors won the championship. But ultimately, team owner Ted Leonsis put a stop to those rumors, denying that they were ever interested in pursuing him.
Since then, the Wizards hired Tommy Sheppard, their then-interim head of basketball operations to be their full-time GM. But with Ujiri’s contract expiring this summer, that still allowed some fans to hold hope that there would be a change in the front office. With this news in Toronto, it should also put some more finality behind the fact that there is no “MASAI-ah” coming to D.C.
Just because Ujiri isn’t coming to D.C. doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for Washington. Far from it.
Sheppard has become a more savvy front office leader than many of you might have expected. After Sheppard’s impressive cap management by handling the John Wall for Russell Westbrook and the five-team mega-deal Washington was part of this week, I hope that at least some of our most skeptical fans give him a real chance. It’s still too early to say how good (or how bad) of an executive Sheppard is, though we’re getting a clearer picture of what to expect.
In short, the Wizards are in better place now than they were in a couple years ago, and Sheppard has played a major part to make that happen. He may have worked for Grunfeld, but Sheppard has definitely not made moves like his predecessor did over over 15 years.
Congratulations on the new contract Masai. We’re also more than happy with our Sheppard!