Masai Ujiri is already on the job and started to make his first moves as G.M. He decided to show Ed Stefanski the door on Sunday. In addition a number of scouts were given the pink slip. It seemed clear that MLSE lacked confidence in Stefanski as they never would pull the trigger on Colangelo during the season and give Stefanski the reigns on an interim basis. He didn’t seem like he was even a candidate when Colangelo was let go.
It makes sense that he would be out the door. Ujiri who had a background in scouting likely have some folks in mind to bring in to fill those rolls and with no draft pick to speak of there was not a lot of need to hold on to these folks. Stefanski did a lot of scouting as part of his roll and Vice President in charge of basketball operations under Colangelo.
It for me was always a strange fit having the guy was responsible for the Vince Carter trade from the Nets prospective as part of the Raptors. Ed is a great man and a nice guy. However, if this organization had true faith in him wouldn’t he have been given a chance to run the show when this team struggled out to 4-19 start.
Ujiri’s major mission however is to find a way to unload Andrea Bargnani as quickly as possible. The urgency is to get something done before he would be eligible to be amnestied. The amnesty provision only has a short window it can be exercised at the beginning of free agency in July. So that likely explains the urgency on the Raptors part.
If you are hoping for anything significant from this trade don’t hold your breath. It is a case of addition by subtraction with Bargnani. It also seems pretty clear that Ujiri will at least consider the option of amnesty for Andrea Bargnani. It does make much more sense than to simply amnesty Linas Kleiza who has just one year left on his deal in the form of a player option that he will be more than happy to exercise. Bargnani is earning a bigger number for a longer period of time so it makes sense from pure money prospective that he is the one you should cut loose.
From a basketball point of view, Andrea Bargnani has taken his value to the lowest it likely has ever been. The Raptors not only paid Masai a lot of money because he was likely the best man for the job, but also because the job itself is far from easy.
The Raptors are expected to have a formal press conference to have Masai meet the media for the first time in his new role as the general manger and head of basketball operations from the Raptors. No doubt he will be addressing a great many things but at the top of list is likely the future of Andrea Bargnani.