Earlier today, the Raptors officially announced that Bryan Colangelo would transition to a new role within Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment while the club would seek out a new hire to fill the General Manager position. In a conference call earlier today, I asked Colangelo if he was reluctant to take a new job with the Raptors that has less to do with basketball operations and more to do with the business side of things.
"Yes and no. Obviously, there’s disappointment in the process but through the discussion with Tim [Leiweke] it became clear that the role would be more than just focusing on the business and if I’m asked to help and guide [the new hire], I’ll do that. At the same time, I’m very comfortable knowing that I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the makeup of this team," Colangelo said. "But I’ll enjoy watching these young men develop into the NBA players that I know they’re capable of. There’s some great young pieces to be excited about and we’re moving in the right direction. I’m comfortable with the decision that’s been made, though it may have taken some time to get comfortable with."
The longtime executive shot down the notion that he might be "ticked off" by the club's management restructuring, but he was candid in saying that he was disappointed by the decision. While he won't have final say over the moves that are made, he says that he is thrilled to help put the finishing touches on a team that he believes is on its way to being competitive. During the course of the call, Colangelo also disclosed that he has an out clause that will allow him to pursue another NBA GM job if the opportunity presents itself.
Korn/Ferry International was hired by MLSE to help find the Raptors' next GM, though Leiweke told reporters earlier today that he will make the final determination. I asked Colangelo for his thoughts on the club's decision to consult with an outside party to find his successor.
"I have no problem with it…I’ll certainly be helpful in the process, in vetting some of the candidates, talking about some of the people that are involved. I went through an internal search just a few years ago when I brought Ed Stefanski in, so I have a lot of knowledge and I have a lot of background work that has been done on a lot of the potential candidates. If they need me, I’ll give my input there," said Colangelo.
His level of input in the hiring of his successor remains to be seen, as well as the level of influence he'll have once that person is in charge. Colangelo isn't sure how much pull he'll have and says that it will depend largely on who is brought aboard. That person will also have to figure out what to do with Andrea Bargnani. The big man, at times, has flashed the ability that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 Draft, but has been unable to do so consistently. Colangelo obviously wishes things worked out differently with the Italian import, but isn't sure what he would have done differently.
"I’m not sure I would [have handled it differently]. Maybe I would have traded him before he got hurt, so the trade value didn't go down or if there was an opportunity before the trade deadline. But I can’t control the injury aspect of things," said the former GM. "There’s value in Andrea and I think a change of scenery is probably best for all sides…But again, the new guy is going to have to decide how to handle that."
With years of front office experience and a clause in his contract that can spring him from Toronto, it's not clear how long Colangelo will want to remain in a supporting role with the Raptors. However, he made it known today that he will respect the parameters of his new job for as long as he has it. Or, as he put it, "If I get in the way, I'm not going to be around."
The Raptors are expected to pick up their 2013/14 option on GM Bryan Colangelo's contract, reports Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun, who hears the decision will be made official as early as Monday. It seemed likely when this past season ended that the Raptors would keep Colangelo and coach Dwane Casey, but that was before Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the team, hired Tim Leiweke as president and CEO. Leiweke has ties to Phil Jackson and seemed intent on trying to convince the Zen Master to take over the team's basketball operations, a move that would presumably bump Colangelo from the picture.
Colangelo has said that if he's back, Casey would be, too. News on the fate of both men's jobs appeared imminent after Colangelo was scheduled to meet with Raptors brass this past Tuesday. Zicarelli argues that the task of turning around the Raptors is immense, and no one could make it happen overnight. With the Chicago pre-draft camp set for this week, Zicarelli opines, it makes sense to keep the man who's been in charge rather than waste time while a new GM become acclimated to the job. The Raptors will probably discuss possible trades involving Andrea Bargnani with executives from other teams at this week's pre-draft camp, according to Zicarelli.
While Casey, whose contract is guaranteed for next season, appears safe, it seems likely there will be changes to his staff. The Raptors have asked the Celtics for permission to speak with assistant coach Tyronn Lue, while the fate of Johnny Davis, a longtime right-hand man for Casey, is uncertain.
Sources tell Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun that there has been "no appetite" among the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment board, which controls the Raptors, to replace either GM Bryan Colangelo or coach Dwane Casey. The team has appeared to have been leaning toward keeping both, and Colangelo said today that if the Raptors pick up his option for next season, Casey will be back as well.
The Raptors finished tied for ninth place in the Eastern Conference this year, at 34-48, and participated in the most significant in-season trade of 2012/13, acquiring Rudy Gay in a three-team deal that sent away Jose Calderon. The move leaves the team close to luxury-tax territory for next season, and Colangelo is reportedly likely to offer Gay, who's never been an All-Star, an extension to his five-year, $82.3MM contract. The team played .500 ball after the Gay trade, and benefitted down the stretch from the improved play of rookie center Jonas Valanciunas, who averaged 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 31.6 minutes during April.
Toronto was without the injured Andrea Bargnani for much of the season, though Wolstat takes Colangelo to task for his continued trust in the Italian big man. Colangelo came on board in 2006, and made Bargnani the first overall pick in the draft that year, passing up power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the No. 2 pick. Colangelo said today that a trade may be in the best interests of Bargnani and the Raptors, but sources tell Wolstat that Toronto would have to include an asset to entice teams to take on the final two years and $22.25MM on Bargnani's contract.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and GM Bryan Colangelo spoke to reporters in Toronto today, answering questions about the 2012/13 season and looking ahead to the offseason. Although neither Casey nor Colangelo are locks to remain in their current roles through the summer, it appears the Raps are leaning toward retaining both. Colangelo addressed a few topics of note today, and Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun rounded them up, via Twitter. Let's dive in....
Andrea Bargnani got a great deal of ink on Hoops Rumors this season and at one point it seemed like a lock that the big man would be moved. General Manager Bryan Colangelo was candid about his efforts to trade the former No. 1 overall pick and Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld writes that the club still hopes to move him this summer.
“We obviously had some frank discussions with Andrea and his agent that a change of scenery might benefit everyone, but his two random and unrelated elbow injuries dismissed whatever trade scenarios were being contemplated,” the GM said. “With the timing of his injuries, we simply just ran out of runway prior to the trade deadline. As far as value, I would disagree [that his is low], good size-to-skill ratio is a commodity in this league, especially the way the game is trending. If Andrea stays, however, I’m hoping [head coach Dwane] Case[y] can find a way to duplicate his tremendous start to the 11-12 campaign, where he was performing at an All-Star level on both ends of the floor.”
Colangelo added that he is happy with the talent level of his young core and that he will look to add a veteran presence to the club this summer. The club also has a decision to make on a veteran of their own in Alan Anderson. Our own Luke Adams spoke with the 30-year-old as he gets set for free agency after the season.
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun believes the Raptors will pursue a power forward this summer via trade in return for Andrea Bargnani, and he advocates that Toronto go after Carl Landry, as the team is reportedly considering (Twitter links). If Bargnani is successfully dealt, he joins Greg Oden, Andrew Bogut, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James on the list of #1 picks over the last ten seasons to either eventually leave or be traded from the team that drafted them. Here are a few more tidbits to relay from the Atlantic Division:
Following blowout losses in Golden State and Denver, the Knicks' current five-game road trip managed to get even worse when Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler left last night's game against the Nuggets with knee injuries. While Chandler downplayed the severity of his left knee contusion and could play tonight, Anthony will head back to New York to get his troublesome right knee drained. Here's more out of the Atlantic Division:
Having suffered an avulsion sprain of his right elbow, Andrea Bargnani will miss the rest of the 2012/13 season, the Raptors announced today in a press release. According to the team, Bargnani's new injury isn't related to the elbow issue that sidelined him for 26 games earlier in the season.
While Bargnani's injury has little to no effect on the Raptors' postseason chances, which are virtually non-existent at this point, it could affect his trade stock this summer. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reacted to the news by tweeting that Bargnani has likely played his last game in a Raptors uniform, with the team looking to move him after the season. However, as Doug Smith of the Toronto Star points out (via Twitter), trading Bargnani in the summer will be a tall order, given his poor play in '12/13, along with the fact that teams won't know for sure if he's healthy.
Wolstat rightly points out (via Twitter) that it would be better for the Raps if they could find a taker prior to next season, to provide a fresh start for both the player and the team. Still, I tend to side with Smith, and wonder how Toronto could find anything of value for a player who was struggling even before suffering a season-ending injury. Prior to the trade deadline, Bargnani was being linked in trade rumors to players like Ben Gordon and Carlos Boozer, whose contracts are as bad or worse than Bargnani's. I doubt the offers will improve at all this summer.
Amnestying Bargnani, who is owed $22.25MM beyond this season, is also an option for Toronto, but the club is unlikely to go that route as long as Bryan Colangelo remains in charge, as Wolstat tweets. Linas Kleiza remains the stronger amnesty candidate for the Raptors.
Five weeks into Rudy Gay's tenure with the Raptors, GM Bryan Colangelo already sees him as the face of the franchise, and he's likely to offer Gay an extension when he becomes eligible for one in July, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. The team will also pursue a "proven scoring post player" in return for Andrea Bargnani, Spears writes.
While Raptors management has been quick to embrace him, Gay believes he wasn't given a fair shake by new members of the front office in Memphis who arrived after Robert Pera bought the team at the start of the season. Gay had an inkling he'd be traded, since he felt the new management team, headed by CEO Jason Levien, didn't give him an opportunity to show he was worth his contract, which pays him $82.3MM over five years.
"With [new management], I don't think anybody's comfortable," the ex-Grizzlies forward said. "They're rookie owners. They come in there and they want it their own way, and you can't blame them for that. But it's a player's league."
Come July, Gay will have played three seasons of his five-year deal, making him extension-eligible. The Raptors would only be able to add two seasons to his contract, since veteran extensions are limited to four years including the remaining years on the existing deal. Still, an extension would likely remove the possibility, however remote, of Gay invoking his player option to decline the $19.3MM he's set to receive in 2014/15.
Veterans have been largely unwilling to sign extensions since they can usually sign for more money and more years in free agency, but Gay may be willing to make an exception, considering how highly the Raptors view his skills and how few teams may be willing to pay him more. Gay isn't thinking long-term, Spears writes, but that could change between now and July, and he seems to have a positive view of his new surroundings.
"Last time I left it up to my agent and it worked for me," he said. "I love the city. I think the team has a lot of potential. The organization is great. [Colangelo] is here and he is watching every step trying to make this team better."
As for a Bargnani trade, I'm not sure whether Toronto will be able to find a top-shelf post option in return for a player whose numbers have declined precipitously this year. The Raptors will also be hard-pressed to avoid the tax next season, so finding an upgrade who costs less or the same amount as Bargnani's $10.75MM salary figure for next season will be a challenge.