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What Masai Ujiri signals about MLSE

The Raptors managed to get Masai to come to Canada, and so Tim Leiweke's plans have started off with a bang. Kinnon Yee argues that the Ujiri signing signals how serious MLSE is about putting a better product on the floor.

"My cojones are THIS big"
"My cojones are THIS big"

Forget the pedigree.

Forget where Masai Ujiri has come from.

Forget that Ujiri used to work for Bryan Colangelo.

What stands out to me is that MLSE is willing to spend big money to give it a shot at putting a proper product on the court.

No, spending money close to the salary cap doesn't do it, since every team does it. Neither does spending over the cap as these playoffs have proven, since most of the over spenders were out by the first round. But spending effectively is such a key component in the NBA that it's the difference between well managed teams in the top half of the standings and the bottom half dregs.

The $15 million reasons that Tim Leiweke has tossed out to Ujiri means that Leiweke has both spending power and the right to use it as he sees fit, when it is justified.

Yes, it's a large chunk of cash and if the Raptors had spent that amount of money on John Lucas III, I'd be up in arms.

But one is a salary cap situation and the other isn't. So in this case, I don't care how much MLSE spent, but the fact that they did means something: Money will be spent when prudent.

Put in another way, shouldn't Masai Ujiri at least have been paid as much as Bryan Colangelo?

It's just time now for Masai Ujiri to come in and create a situation where spending over the cap can happen. It means putting a group that is going to get you close to the top and then spending over the cap gives you that final push.

We are nowhere near that position right now, and it's thanks to the previous Bryan Colangelo regime.

And while I think Masai could stay with Colangelo's people, I was hoping for him to clean house and install a system that fits his style from top to bottom.

And he's begun doing exactly that.

For those of us who were waiting for sweeping changes, Ujiri comes in like a man with the plan.

I was worried that Ujiri may have been just a shuffling of the chairs on the Titanic. A man who simply took the long way to a promotion in the Raptors organization. But my fears were clearly unfounded as Masai took a knife to a section of the Raptors that he already knew best.

By removing people who have been hired under Colangelo's tenure, and now even people who have long been a part of the Raptors organization, Masai Ujiri is getting to the roots of the problem (scouting) which have been affecting this organization for years. He is putting his fingerprints on this organization and by extension, Tim Leiweke's fingerprints even before he was introduced to the media.

When Tim Leiweke mentioned that he sees the current Raptors as a middling 7-11 standings team, and that it was unacceptable, he looked to bring in a GM who saw this team the same way. Obviously, that wasn't Bryan "one move away" Colangelo.

It's the same way many of us (readers and writers) have seen this team over the past few years, and Tim Leiweke has now put action to his words by bringing in someone who values scouting, and building an identity by building around players who fit a vision.

As Masai Ujiri said, he is only himself and not Bryan Colangelo. And while he respects Colangelo, he will get things done his way.

He may give off some of the media savvy that Colangelo displays (as was evidenced by his press conference,) but make no mistake.

Bryan Colangelo always used to talk about making decisions by committee and how he believed in group-think. Masai Ujiri understands that at the end of the day, no matter whose opinions he entertains, the decision lies in himself and everyone will always associate decisions made by the franchise as decisions made by him.

This is a real change in direction for the Raptors.