Tuesday February 15 2011 – 7:21pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Depending on who you listen to (or who you believe) … the long-term fate of Raptors President/General Manager Bryan Colangelo should be decided this week. There are rumblings that the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Board of Governors plan on meeting with Colangelo and his expiring contract is sure to be a topic of discussion.
It is rumoured that Colangelo will be offered an extension. But for how long … is anybody’s guess.
IF that is the case — if a contract is put forth — I’d guess that it would be a 2-3 year deal.
The critics will say that Colangelo has not earned an extension and Toronto would be better-served moving forward with a different GM. And there’s no denying that the team has certainly not moved ahead under his reign. The Raptors made the playoffs in each of BC’s first two seasons in town but they have not been in the post-season for 2 straight seasons and they’re about to make it #3 on the outside looking in.
But there’s something to be said for stability in the organization – and not just with the players and the core group on the floor. What about stability from the top of the management team?
Plus, with Chris Bosh now in Miami … it can be argued that Colangelo is the ‘face’ of the Raptors franchise. If somebody is representing the team and ‘selling’ TORONTO as a city and as a franchise, Bryan Colangelo is the one doing that. Andrea Bargnani may (arguably) be the best player but he doesn’t have the reach or the cache in the league (yet?) to convince players to come to this city as free agents, etc. And DeMar DeRozan is not on that level yet either. Thus, BC and the “Colangelo” name is looked upon to not only build this team but serve as the figure-head of the club as well.
Year 1 under Colangelo was a huge success … with the Raptors winning their first-ever division championship. But they bowed out in round 1.
Year 2 under Colangelo was ‘average’ in terms of the Raps’ record, but the team still got into the post-season and had what many considered to be their most ‘favourable’ match up (the Orlando Magic). Again though … Toronto did not make it to the 2nd round.
Year 3 under Colangelo was a failure in many ways. The Jermaine O’Neal experiment did not work out and the dismissal of Sam Mitchell may have come too soon. Nonetheless, the team struggled to barely eclipse 30 wins and they were on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
Year 4 under Colangelo started with a bang. He was able to acquire one of the top free agents (maybe THE top F/A) on the market in Hedo Turkoglu. Toronto should have had a formidable front line with Bosh, Turkoglu, and Bargnani. But the 3 never quite fit and Turkoglu did not turn out to be as-advertised. His time in Toronto was a waste and there were serious divides in the Raptors locker room. Add to the fact that Bosh missed the most significant games of the season (when many believe he should have been playing still) due to a nose/face injury and Toronto missed the playoffs AGAIN … on the last night of the season.
One good year. One average year. One BAD year. One ‘incomplete’ year (in my opinion).
Then … there’s this season …
This year started off with the departure of Bosh in the summer and then the signings of Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson. Then came the acquisition of Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless … and the subsequent flipping of Stojakovic to the Dallas Mavericks as well.
With Bosh gone, many of the experts believed Toronto would scratch and claw — at best — to slide into the 8th seed but even more pundits thought the Raptors could struggle towards 20-25 wins. Now that it’s playing out that way … the critics have come crawling out of the woodwork. And that doesn’t seem to make sense. Aren’t the Raps what you (most of you) thought they’d be?
Could Colangelo have dealt Bosh last season before he had a chance to walk via free agency?
Sure. But don’t you think other teams in the league would have hesitated to make a move for CB; fearing that he’d never re-sign with them either? And don’t you think Colangelo would have been hammered by many if he traded away the ‘franchise player’ when Toronto was sitting 7 games above .500 at the All Star break … holding down their best-ever record (in franchise history) at that point?
The Kleiza signing looks tough now … given the Lithuanian’s recent knee surgery and the Johnson extension was considered the ‘going rate’ for a player of his calibre at the time. Plus, Johnson’s performance this year (when he’s not in foul trouble) has been valuable for Toronto in that he brings the defence, rebounding, shot-blocking, and energy that Jay Triano and company sorely need.
Has Colangelo’s time in Toronto been a home run? No.
But has the GM been a complete failure as well? No.
Going forward, if Colangelo is retained, changes must be made. If he’s still running the show … his management team and scouting staff will have to be looked at. Status quo can’t be the motto for everything and everyone. And the leash will likely be (and should be) tighter.
However, stability from the top-on-down is a good place to start and having someone who knows and understands this market is important as well. You could bring in a Kevin Pritchard or a Jeff Bower, but would they know or understand the challenges that come with being the NBA’s lone franchise north of the border? Would you want to start from square one with one of those guys (who I’m simply using as examples) or would you want to ‘risk’ going with a first-time General Manager at a time when your franchise is at a crossroads in the post-Bosh era?
That’s what the MLSE Board is considering right now. And if I had a vote, I’d be bringing Colangelo back.