Masai Ujiri leaves the Nuggets, accepts general manager job with the Toronto Raptors

DENVER - Masai Ujiri, the general manager of the Denver Nuggets who was recently named the NBA's executive of the year, has accepted a job with the Toronto Raptors.

The Nuggets confirmed earlier reports of his departure with a web posting Friday afternoon.

Ujiri, 42, met with the Raptors about the job over the weekend, Yahoo Sports reported. His contract in Denver expires on June 30.

Ujiri had also been weighing an offer from the Nuggets for the past week, The Denver Post said.

Josh Kroenke, who is the president of both the Nuggets and the Avalanche, declined to comment on Ujiri's interview during a recent press conference about the hiring of a new head hockey coach.

"I appreciate everything Masai has done since re-joining the Nuggets in 2010," Kroenke said in the statement provided by the team. "Over the past two and a half years, he and I have spent countless hours working together to tackle some of the toughest challenges in franchise history."

The statement also said the Nuggets will begin to search for Ujiri's replacement immediately.

Yahoo recently reported that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke is prepared to offer Ujiri $3 million annually to return to Toronto, where he was assistant GM for three years before joining Denver in 2010.

Ujiri has been hailed as one of the rising stars among NBA executives thanks to his deft handling of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York and his ability to assemble a relatively starless roster that still managed to be a formidable contender in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets provided this statement from Ujiri:

"First and foremost, I would like to thank Stan and Josh Kroenke for the opportunity they have given me over the past three years," Ujiri said. "It was a very difficult decision to leave Denver, but the Nuggets remain in good hands. I’d also like to thank the coaching staff for their work and the fans for their support and dedication. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the city of Denver and the Nuggets as an organization.

"Working for and with Josh on a day-to-day basis is something I will always value. We both learned and grew so much. Without him, this opportunity might have never happened. He always said that he would never stand in the way of the only other job I cherished. He's a class act and Denver is a class organization."

-- Read The Denver Post's report: http://ch7ne.ws/15pHCCb