Colangelo out as Raptors GM, staying on as president

{eot} Staff
5/21/2013 6:29:37 PM
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Bryan Colangelo's time as general manager of the Toronto Raptors is over. However, he will remain with the team in his role as team president.

Colangelo will continue to report directly to new Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke but will no longer have the final say on the team's basketball decisions.

That job will belong to the team's new general manager, whom Leiweke is hoping to have in place within the next 30 days. Several reports have said the Raptors first choice would be to bring back Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who worked under Colangelo with the Raptors from 2007-10 first as director of global scouting and later as assistant GM.

Other names like Ed Stefanski, the Raptors' current vice-president of basketball operations, Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver and Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard have also been listed as potential successors.

Whomever Leiweke chooses, he made it clear that it will be their team to run.

"Bryan is going to have to take a deep breath every now and then, and understand there is a GM that has the final decisions on basketball," Leiweke said during a conference call on Tuesday.

Leiweke gave Colangelo "high marks" for his ability to grow basketball in Toronto, but was clear that the time was right to take the team's basketball operations in a new direction.
"I think we all know there is great debate about decisions made in the past eight years, and in particular in the past five years not making the playoffs," Leiweke said. "There is accountability here. We need a new set of eyes and a new thinking towards how we, from a basketball standpoint, go forward."

Leiweke also acknowledged that the situation is complex and will take sacrifice, especially from Colangelo, who wanted to remain as GM.

"Do I understand that it's going to tax Bryan a little bit? One-hundred per cent," Leiweke said. "But I think given the circumstances we found ourselves in, the timing of the decision ... and given his choices, I believe it is in everyone's best interest to make this work.

"Bryan is ticked off at me, this isn't his perfect world either. But to his credit he accepts the role," he said.

And if things don't work out as planned, Leiweke said he will do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation.

"Bryan is going to have to live with this; I hope he can because if he can't I'm fairly certain we're not going to fire the Toronto Raptors."

For his part, Colangelo, while making it clear he would have preferred to stay on as GM, said he believes the future is bright for the Raptors.

"I think we are poised for success and I want to be a part of it," he said.

In his new role, Colangelo will continue to advise Leiweke on basketball-related matters while broadening his involvement in the business side of the franchise.

Colangelo also said he will respect the boundaries of his new position and be of whatever help he can be to his successor.

"The bottom line is: If I get in the way, I won't be around," he said. "If I'm asked my opinion, I'll give it.

"I think the new guy will appreciate that I'm there in his corner."

One area in particular Leiweke is hoping Colangelo will contribute is in growing the Raptors footprint in Canada. And on that front, the team is bidding to host the NBA All-Star Game in 2016 which also happens to be the Raptors' 20th anniversary.

"Toronto is not bidding on the 2016 All-Star Game, Canada is," said Leiweke. "We're the only NBA in Canada and we have to start acting like it.

"Our goal is to be Canada's Team."

Leiweke also said that should other basketball jobs open up with another team, Colangelo would be free to explore those opportunities.

Colangelo joined the Raptors on February 28, 2006 – exactly one day after he had resigned his position as president and general manager with the Phoenix Suns.

In his first full season on the job in 2006-07, the Raptors won their only Atlantic division title in franchise history and earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Colangelo was named the NBA's Executive of the Year following the season.

The team again qualified for the playoffs in 2007-08 with a 41-41 record.  However, they have not finished with a record above .500 since.

The Raptors finished 34-48 this season and missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year.

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