Report: Ex-Rogers chair strongly opposed new deal for Raptors' Ujiri
The Toronto Raptors nearly lost vice chairman and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri this past offseason.
Edward Rogers, the former chair of Rogers Communications Inc., opposed the contract that Raptors ownership was prepared to offer Ujiri and did not believe the executive was worth the negotiated compensation, sources told Christine Dobby and Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
Rogers felt Raptors GM Bobby Webster could manage the team effectively without Ujiri, Dobby and Smith add.
Rogers reportedly told Larry Tanenbaum, the chair of team ownership group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE), that Ujiri was "arrogant" and didn't share his vision for the club during a July meeting between Rogers and Ujiri.
Rogers then apparently called Ujiri and told him he wasn't worth his pay. Ujiri considered taking a year off as Raptors president following that conversation with Rogers, a source told Dobby and Smith.
But Ujiri's relationship with various MLSE board members, including Tanenbaum, reportedly convinced him to re-sign with Toronto.
Rogers Communications holds a 37.5% ownership stake in MLSE, while Tanenbaum's Kilmer Group owns 25%. But Tanenbaum reportedly used his power as governor of the NBA franchise to overrule Rogers and sign Ujiri to a new contract.
"Above all, I respect the man," Rogers told Dobby and Smith. "Masai built an NBA champion, and I have every confidence in him and his team to do so again."
He added: "Masai understands better than anyone that negotiations test both sides. The best deals involve compromise and leave all parties feeling like winners."
Ujiri, 51, joined the Raptors in 2008 as director of international scouting and later became Toronto's assistant GM. He left in 2010 to become the Denver Nuggets' GM and executive vice president of basketball operations, returning to the Raptors in 2013 to replace Bryan Colangelo.