One of the ongoing stories that fans and media alike debated as the Raptors awaited official word on Masai Ujiri was whether or not he was giving the Nuggets time to match Toronto’s lucrative offer and whether he was just using the Raptors for leverage, with little interest in actually coming here. Well Ujiri’s heartfelt message of coming “home” at his introductory press conference in Toronto all but silenced those concerns, and then Friday there was this quote from Nuggets President Josh Kroenke at his own presser when asked why the Nuggets didn’t match MLSE’s offer to Ujiri…
“Well, Masai told me not to. He said, ‘Josh I’m not going to tell you to match. I think I have already made my decision.’ His press conference was very revealing because it showed his love for the city of Toronto. In his opening statement he said ‘I am home’ several times and that is a great thing for Masai to feel. I don’t think it was his intention to move on from Denver this quickly but Toronto was always a special place for him, as well as Denver is. We all know his career started here where he was a scout and then he moved to Toronto then came back to Denver and now he is going back to Toronto. I think it was a natural evolution, but as far as matching the offer, Masai told me not to. I said, ‘Well, if that’s your decision then we aren’t even going to have the conversation.’ “
Courtesy of Nuggets.com
Kroenke doesn’t believe Ujiri would have stayed in Denver if the Nuggets had matched the offer. In addition, Kroenke again mentioned that he and Ujiri had an agreement (pre-Toronto offer) about going forward at a number (dollar figure) that Masai had asked for, but that the Raptors were the only team he would allow to speak with Ujiri based on their prior relationship.
The Nuggets President also said that “It wasn’t a black-and-white situation, which I think a lot of people try to make it around the contract and the money. I don’t think it was a situation regarding money at all.”
You see, Denver? It had nothing to do with the Kroenkes’ reluctance to spend big money (even though their history suggests they wouldn’t have matched such a lucrative offer anyway). So don’t be mad, Ty. You can take the Raptors hat off now.
(You can view the full transcript of Kroenke’s press conference, including his assertion that he (not Ujiri) always made the decisions in Denver, at Nuggets.com)