Lewenberg: Why Colangelo deserves better

Josh Lewenberg

5/15/2013 7:31:38 PM


That is the Toronto Raptors' win-loss record in seven seasons since Bryan Colangelo took over as the team's President and General Manager.

In that time the Raptors have just one winning season to speak of. They've won three playoff games in just two postseason appearances.

You can argue that after seven years of faithful service to the organization Colangelo is entitled to nothing. But you'd be wrong. He is entitled to respect.

The two-time Executive of the Year was hailed as a franchise saviour when he was lured away from the Phoenix Suns and brought to town in February of 2006. He was supposed to bring NBA legitimacy to a city that desperately craved it, and a fan base that had been teased - only briefly - with the taste of success.

Fast forward to 2013. That taste has turned bitter. The results, division title aside, have fallen well below expectations and the promise of building a winner in Toronto has fallen on skeptical ears. Here we sit, the franchise at another crossroads as Colangelo -- like everybody else -- awaits the next step, the chosen path. In many ways this is the calm before what appears to be an inevitable storm.

Throughout his tenure Colangelo, a beacon of class and professionalism, has represented the front office in a way any ideal executive should. He has and continues to treat the city, its fans and media alike with respect. In terms of his work, he hasn't been shy, swinging for the fences and engineering the type of bold moves he's become synonymous with. Agree or disagree with his personnel decisions, his unwavering dedication to the job has been commendable.

In the end it's a results driven business and the results have not been good. The Raptors' GM knows that as well as anyone. He may be given one final opportunity to deliver those results in the option year of his contract. He may not. In either scenario there should have been a better, quicker way of coming to a resolution.

Nearly four weeks ago Colangelo addressed the media in his annual season ending post-mortem. For over 38 minutes he answered questions regarding the immediate and long-term future of the team, its players and coach without knowing where his own fate in the organization lied.

Now he and his staff head to Chicago for a draft combine that begins on Thursday. There -- assuming a resolution has not been made by this point -- he'll represent a team (likely) without a pick, a team he may not even be a part of when the draft takes place in late June.

The question is, who steps in to do right by the GM? That's where things get tricky.

Tim Leiweke, the incoming CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owes Colangelo nothing. Unofficially, he's been on the job for just over two weeks. Officially he won't take over until June 30. Understandably, his allegiance is to this franchise and its future, as he sees it, not to GM he inherited. It is widely believed that the MLSE board has ceded the decision making to its new chief executive. It's Leiweke's call to make, whenever he is ready to make it.

Many believe a resolution is just around the corner. Leiweke has been weighing his options, doing his due diligence and could presumably be seeking out potential alternatives should he decide to steer the franchise in a new direction. Although it remains plausible that Colangelo's one-year option is picked up, that scenario appears to be a fallback at this point. If that was "Plan A", wouldn't it be done by now? Some have speculated that Colangelo could take his fate in his own hands and resign. It shouldn't come to that.

Colangelo's seven-year tenure with the Raptors has been a roller coaster. Despite all the bumps, drops and turns he remains one of the most well regarded executives in the association. If his time in Toronto is nearing its end no one should be surprised, these marriages tend to expire in the absence of sustained success, but how long can you keep the GM in limbo? He deserves better.