Chisholm: Colangelo not afraid to live with his choices as GM

Tim Chisholm
7/9/2009 11:31:46 AM
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Choices are the foundation of human life. We make a countless number of choices every day, several of which we rarely even acknowledge as choices. We CHOOSE to brush our teeth and pay our bills. Sure, the consequences of not doing so would be dire, but that doesn't mean that those acts aren't choices we make to avoid those alternatives.

The empowering thing about acknowledging one's choices is that it allows you to make subsequent choices that strengthen the first. Were one to not acknowledge one's choices, what comes after is just a garbled mess of coincidence and happenstance. Acknowledging one's choices, and accepting the responsibility of having chosen to do something, affords one the wherewithal to make the most of what comes next.

On July 3rd, Bryan Colangelo made a choice. He chose to acquire Hedo Turkoglu for his Raptors ballclub, no matter what the cost to the team might be. If it meant renouncing every free agent he had, as well as any cap exceptions he might use to replace those players, so be it. In his eyes Turkoglu was a game-changing acquisition, and he was ready to take the heat for that choice.

The liberation that comes from accepting that choice, and the possible ramifications, gave Colangelo a newfound freedom to play for the next several days while he waited for the league-imposed moratorium on actually inking free agent deals to pass. He figured he'd kick the tires with those free agents of his; see if he couldn't help them land a new home. After all, solid relationships with agents and players can be a very valuable (if rarely noticed) maneuvering tool down the road. Favours are a powerful thing and collecting them is like collecting any other asset when building a team.

So, making the choice to help out whom he could was an obvious next step on his agenda. In the course of helping Shawn Marion get a richer deal than the mid-level exception, though, Colangelo chose to also explore what he might be able to net his team in return beyond favours. There was no pressing need to get anything back, he'd already committed to acquiring Turkoglu and renouncing his players, but perhaps a scenario could be unearthed that could nab him a pick or some cash. If things unfolded well, maybe he'd even be able to swap one of his less desirable players for someone more in tune with what the team's needs were. If he couldn't, he'd already mentally committed to some minimum-salaried players he could see falling through the cracks.
However, in order to facilitate the machinations of the trade machine he'd chosen to activate, more players and more teams needed to be included to make the logistics work. In comes Dallas and Memphis and Orlando to make the numbers work. In comes Stackhouse, Humphries, Douby, Wright, George, Buckner and eventually Turkoglu himself before the machine could be shut down. Colangelo, in an attempt to help Marion after opting to sign Turkoglu, nets himself two brand new assets while helping to preserve the ones that he was willing to lose only six days ago.
That, though, is what makes Colangelo such a highly respected executive. He'd chosen to acquire Turkoglu, regardless of the cost to the franchise. To him, Turkoglu was worth the expense, and if he had to gut his team to get him, that was his choice to make. Once he's made a decision like that he doesn't obsess with the revisiting the climate of that choice – in his eyes, it's done. Everything subsequently is about making new choices to augment the choices he has already made. As a result of that mindset he was able to enter into Shawn Marion sign-and-trade talks with a no-risk frame of mind; the team couldn't take on more salary because it would kill the Turkoglu deal, but any maneuver that would preserve that original choice was on the table. In the end Colangelo made out like a bandit, empowered by the willingness to come away with nothing. He had his man; everything else was just the icing on the cake.

There will be subsequent pieces examining the arrival of Turkoglu, Wright and George when it all becomes official, as well as pieces examining the eventual use of the cap exceptions he was able to maintain. In this moment, though, allow the power of a single choice to resonate as you wait for the forthcoming confirmations.

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