10:45am: Raptors ownership is preparing to make a major financial offer to Ujiri, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
10:04am: Bryan Colangelo will remain with the Raptors' parent organization in a "corporate" non-basketball role as the search continues for a new head of the Raptors organization, sources tell Doug Smith of the Toronto Star (via Twitter). The MLSE has been negotiating with Colangelo this weekend to stay on in a signficant capacity while also talking with Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri about assuming full control of the team's basketball operations (Twitter links).
Toronto held an option on Colangelo's contract for the 2013/14 season and today was their deadline to make a determination. The decision to move Colangelo out of the President/GM role could be a sign that they are on the brink of reaching an agreement with Ujiri.
The Raptors hired an outside firm to help them identify the best candidate for the GM role and that process led them to identify Ujiri as their top candidate. While it would appear that Toronto respects Colangelo's experience and business acumen, they are less-than-thrilled with the club's on-court performance in recent years.
Colangelo was expected to deliver a winner by year seven of his tenure but things haven't improved as expected since the Raptors won the Atlantic Division in 2007. Since then, the club has undergone a number of face lifts with the most notable coming in the form of Chris Bosh's departure in the summer of 2010.
Colangelo's decision to take Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 overall pick in the '06 draft also didn't pan out as hoped. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Raptors passed up the chance to take future All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and Rajon Rondo to take the Italian forward. In fairness to the Raptors, however, the 2006 draft was littered with relative busts at the top of the board including Adam Morrison (No. 3), Tyrus Thomas (No. 4), and Shelden Williams (No. 5).
The Knicks season ended last night when the Pacers defeated them in Indiana to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks were the oldest team in NBA history for the 2012/13 season, and they have a lot of offseason decisions to reach in lieu of their loss to the Pacers.
The first such decision concerns the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith. Smith recently reiterated his desire to remain in a Knicks uniform next year despite the popular consensus he'll opt out of the contract that will pay him $2.9MM next season. He tweeted about wanting to return (Twitter link) today as SheridonHoops.com's Ben Baroff pointed out. But Smith isn't the only question mark as the Knicks head into the offseason after their best playoff performance in more than a decade.
As deadline day for Bryan Colangelo's 2013/14 option approaches, the Raptors are pursuing current Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri to take over their basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The head-hunting firm hired by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to whittle down the list of potential replacements for Colangelo identified Ujiri as the top choice, sources told Wojnarowski.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reported yesterday that the Raptors had until Monday to make a decision one way or the other on Colangelo, and that MLSE had hired a search firm to look into potential candidates -- Wojnarowski identifies the firm as Korn/Ferry International.
Perhaps it's no surprise that the man who was named 2013's NBA Executive of the Year earlier this month would emerge as the top candidate for MLSE. But in addition to being more than qualified for the job, Ujiri is on an expiring deal. Although he has a strong relationship with Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke, Ujiri is only under contract until June 30th. It had been assumed that he and the Nuggets would work out a new agreement, but perhaps MLSE president/CEO Tim Leiweke could make a pitch and offer that would be enough to present Ujiri with a difficult decision.
Prior to becoming the Nuggets' GM in 2010, Ujiri worked under Colangelo in Toronto for three years, including two as assistant GM, so he does have a history with the Raptors, which could work in Toronto's favor. The 76ers made a run at Ujiri a year ago in hopes of hiring him as their GM, but he turned down the team's interest.
The future of Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo will finally be decided, one way or the other, by the end of Toronto's long weekend, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Smith reports that the Raptors have until Monday to officially exercise or decline Colangelo's option for the 2013/14 season.
According to Smith, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and new president/CEO Tim Leiweke have hired a head-hunting firm to whittle down the list of possible replacements for Colangelo. Two names being mentioned as potential candidates at Chicago's draft combine this week are current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard and Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver.
Smith notes that neither Pritchard and Weaver qualify as the sort of big-name, high-profile executive Leiweke was expected to target, given the Phil Jackson rumors. However, it's possible, according to Smith, that Leiweke is simply doing due diligence, and will ultimately stick with Colangelo and the current basketball operations staff for another year.
Head coach Dwane Casey's future also figures to be tied to the Colangelo decision. Casey has one year remaining on his contract, and Colangelo has indicated that if he's back, Casey will be too. A new head of basketball operations may decide to bring in his own coach.
Let's round up a few Friday morning items out of the Atlantic Division....
A report over the weekend suggested that the Raptors were likely to pick up Bryan Colangelo's option for 2013/14, bringing the longtime general manager back for at least one more season. That report indicated that the move could become official as soon as today, but with no formal announcement made yet, rumors continue to swirl about whether or not Colangelo will be retained. Here's the latest on the Raps' front office:
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.
Phil Jackson is taking his time when it comes to deciding on his basketball future, and a source close to the situation told Marc Stein of ESPN.com that the possibility of the Kings moving to Seattle could have something to do with it. The Seattle group appears to have an uphill battle on their hands but Jackson may be waiting for the possibility to be completely ruled out before giving serious thought to where to he wants to be next season.
After a night without NBA action, the headlines are a little scarce on this Friday morning. But there are still a handful of notable links to round up, particularly out of the Atlantic Division....
It's been nearly three weeks since the Raptors played their last game of the 2012/13 season, but the futures of general manager Bryan Colangelo and head coach Dwane Casey are still up in the air. Both men figure to receive some clarity this week, however, as Colangelo is scheduled to meet tomorrow with the team's decision-makers, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (via Twitter).
Both Wolstat and Doug Smith of the Toronto Star note that the team has been silent over the last couple weeks, particularly in regard to Colangelo's and Casey's futures. However, Wolstat tweets that a decision is expected to come shortly after tomorrow's meeting, while Smith says it should happen at some point this week.
Casey has one more guaranteed year remaining on his contract, and the Raptors have a team option on Colangelo for '13/14. Although the belief at season's end was that both Colangelo and Casey would get one last chance to make the Raps a playoff team next season, MLSE's hiring of Tim Leiweke as president and CEO complicated matters. Leiweke has a strong relationship with Phil Jackson, which has led to reports that Toronto is pursuing Jackson with the intent of offering him control of the Raptors' basketball operations.
Colangelo has been the head of the Raptors' basketball ops since February of 2006, while Casey has coached the team to a 57-91 record over the course of his two seasons in Toronto. Colangelo stated after the season that if his '13/14 option was exercised by the Raps, Casey would return as the team's head coach.