MIAMI -- The Toronto Raptors have asked permission to interview Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard to head up their basketball operations, league sources told CBSSports.com on Friday.
As with similar requests from teams to speak with assistant coach Brian Shaw for head coaching vacancies, the Pacers have indicated that they prefer to wait until their season is over to grant permission for interviews. The Pacers trail the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 2 on Friday night in Miami.
Pritchard, the former Trail Blazers GM who was hired by the Pacers at the behest of former team president Larry Bird, is said to be extremely happy in Indiana. The Raptors recently overhauled their front-office structure, moving team president Bryan Colangelo to a role on the business side and opening up the search for a new head of basketball operations.
The Raptors job is attractive to potential candidates because the team does well financially and is prepared to commit significant resources to restoring the team to prominence. Former Staples Center executive Tim Leiweke is in full command of the Raptors' decision-making process and vision as president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment.
League sources told CBSSports.com that one of the possibilities that Leiweke has identified is teaming Pritchard with Oklahoma City assistant GM Troy Weaver, whose name has been attached to several front-office searches in the past two years. It is unclear whether the Raptors have reached out to the Thunder to ask permission to interview Weaver, though it is highly unlikely that Oklahoma City would grant permission for Weaver to entertain a lateral move.
Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, the reigning NBA Executive of the Year, remains high on the Raptors' list of potential candidates. Ujiri is engaged in talks with the Nuggets on a contract extension, though it is widely presumed in league circles that the notoriously frugal Nuggets would not be inclined to enter a bidding war to retain him.
The Nuggets have granted permission for the Raptors to interview Ujiri, and Yahoo Sports reported that Toronto officials were meeting with the Nuggets executive on Friday in Colorado. When the Sixers pursued Ujiri last summer, he turned down the opportunity to interview and elected to stay in Denver and await the results of negotiations on a new contract that still has not materialized.
Pritchard emerged as a strong candidate for the Raptors' GM job under Colangelo in 2011, when Toronto ultimately hired former Sixers GM Ed Stefanski. Pritchard then received a promotion from player personnel director to GM.