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."