Bryan Colangelo’s six-and-a-half year tenure as President and GM of the Toronto Raptors is over.
In a conference call new MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke said Colangelo was being retained as president but would cede control to an incoming General Manager.
The identity of that new person is still being worked out.
Leiweke said filling that post was a priority. Leiweke spent a day in New York at the NBA head offices gaining opinions and solicited thoughts from around the NBA.
Leiweke emphatically stated that while Colangelo would be available as a resource there would be no room for conflict between the new GM and the old.
He said he had a list of half a dozen candidates and that he had already been refused permission to speak to at least one.
“We want someone with success at trading,” he said. “We need to do a pretty good job at making some decisions on trades in the organization over the next year or two. We need experience, a track record in drafting and development and someone who is very good at communicating his philosophy and style of play to the coaching staff.”
Colangelo will have permission to talk to any other NBA team.
While the number of desirable NBA jobs are few, “it all depends on what the role and responsibility would be,” Colangelo said.
Leiweke outlined a list of the organization’s priorities including securing the 2016 All-Star game, re-establishing the Raptors as Canada’s basketball team and either modifying or creating a new practice facility. The Raptors currently practice at Air Canada Centre.
Colangelo said he was “a little disappointed at not being able to see this thing through with regard to decision making.”
“I don’t believe I’m being pushed off into a corner somewhere,” he said. “I am going to be utilized in a fashion that my 18 years of experience and quite a lot of success along the way is going to be tapped into.”
The 47-year-old Colangelo was the NBA Executive of the Year in 2005 and 2007 but the Raptors have missed the playoffs for the last five seasons. They qualified for the playoffs twice under Colangelo but were handled a major rebuild when Chris Bosh opted to sign with the Miami Heat three seasons ago.
“I don’t view this as a failure by any stretch,” Colangelo said. “What we did was three years ago hit the reset button when Chris Bosh left and this is the culmination of three years of rebuilding.
“That’s not an easy process. There has been steady growth. Perhaps that growth wasn’t quick enough and that was why a change was undertaken.”
Leiweke was candid in assessing where the organization had to go.
Being Canada’s team, he said, “is an ambition and a goal we have not lived up to.”
The 2016 All-Star Game is, in Leiweke’s words “a must have.”
“Toronto is not bidding on the 2016 All-Star Game. Canada is and that’s how we are going to begin to change.”
Leiweke dismissed the notion that NBA players were reluctant to play in Toronto. While financial terms would always be paramount “some of the best-branded players told me flat-out that Toronto is their favourite city,” he said.