Masai Ujiri Plans to Stay in Toronto, Confident Kawhi Will Stay

Kawhi Leonard

Getty General Manager of the Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri is interviewed after his teams victory over the Golden State Warriors to win Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Masai Ujiri spoke to media Tuesday about his future with the Toronto Raptors. According to Eric Koreen of The Athletic Toronto,the team president plans to stay north of the border, saying that while other teams wanting him “is a blessing,” he’s happy living in Canada with his family.

“For me, it’s always been about Toronto,” Ujiri said. “I love it here. … My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadian.”

The 48-year old from Nigeria also offered his opinion on his superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard’s future. He stated that he’s confident that the 2-time Finals MVP will stay.

Before the NBA Playoffs, there were some rumors connecting Ujiri and Leonard to a package deal that would’ve sent them both to the Los Angeles Lakers. Nick Wright of Fox Sports said that Ujiri would be a candidate to replace Magic Johnson after the latter’s resignation at the end of the season.

“The day Magic quit, the day after on this show, I started saying Masai Ujiri’s name,” Wright said. “It’s not because I had some reports or some insight. It’s because it just made too much sense for a guy who does like the spotlight…going to LA, all the things they’ve done for Kawhi, Masai’s the one who put them in place.”

With Rob Pelinka finalizing the deal that teamed LeBron James with Anthony Davis earlier this month, Los Angeles appears to have moved on from bringing Ujiri into the fold.

Here’s the latest on Kawhi Leonard’s future.

Latest Rumors on Kawhi Leonard in Free Agency

As Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported Sunday, Leonard declined his $21.3 million paycheck from Toronto due for next year, but he is “seriously considering” returning to the Raptors.

Toronto is the team that can provide a max contract of $190 million for five years. Otherwise, other teams could reel in the 2-time Finals MVP for $140 million. Haynes writes that Leonard’s trust with the Raptors’ organization is outweighing his desire to return to his roots in Southern California.

The appeal of returning home to Southern California is enticing to the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but with the trust the Raptors built while Leonard led the franchise to its first NBA title by upsetting the Golden State Warriors, rival executives view his current team as the favorite to land him when the free-agent negotiating period begins June 30, sources said.

Our own Anthony Koon pointed out the video of his teammate Danny Green saying that Toronto “would be a hard place to turn down.”

“He loves winning,” Green said. “I think that’s a main priority for him. So I think the city, the fans have done their job. The organization has done their job. It’s going to be a hard place to turn down. It’s going to be a hard place to leave knowing you can win, run it back, have a great team and have a city of fans that love you and that are willing to give you damn near everything.”

With a winning team, a winning front office and a fanbase that adores him, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for Leonard to go anywhere for the time being.

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