The Toronto Raptors reportedly have decided to cut ties with current president and general manager Bryan Colangelo—sort of.
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 21. at 11:37 a.m. ET by Tom Kinslow
“After thorough evaluation and considering all the options, we have concluded that these changes will be in the best interest of the organization,” said Leiweke. “By splitting the roles and having both men report directly to me, we are adding depth to the basketball operations group and giving the Toronto Raptors the best chance of competing for championships in the future. The new GM will inherit a great situation in Toronto, as all of my due diligence around the League indicates that we have a fine, young core and a few key moves will make us a playoff contender next season.”
While the General Manager will have autonomy over basketball decisions, Colangelo will continue to advise Leiweke on basketball-related matters while also broadening his involvement with the business side of the franchise. “The future of this team and this organization excites me more than ever, and I am looking forward to being part of our future success,” said Colangelo. “I will add whatever is necessary to help improve our basketball team while also expanding my efforts to increase brand awareness and influence growth of the game across this great country.”
“Bryan is skilled, knowledgeable and respected across the NBA and will be a resource that we count on to help build the Raptors into Canada’s team,” said Leiweke.
---End of update---
According to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star, Colangelo will be relieved of his current duties but will remain with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment—the entity that owns the Raptors and Air Canada Centre, among other major professional sports assets in the city—in a corporate role:
Sources: Bryan Colangelo to remain at MLSE in "corporate" role -- non basketball -- as search continues for head of #Raptors organization.— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) May 20, 2013
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed this and noted that the two parties are finalizing agreements to move Colangelo away from basketball operations:
Colangelo's finalizing agreement to move over to business side, leaving basketball ops. Ownership preparing major financial offer for Ujiri.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 20, 2013
There is still an ongoing search to find the next head of the organization, a position Colangelo has held since 2006.
As per Wojnarowski, current Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri is the top candidate to replace Colangelo, although it may take MLSE a massive financial offer to pry him away from his current role:
The MLSE remains in full pursuit of Denver GM Masai Ujiri to assume full control of Raptors, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 20, 2013
Regardless of who assumes the day-to-day president and GM duties, a fresh face will be a sight for sore eyes in Toronto. Colangelo wore out his welcome long ago and hasn’t had this team relevant in years.
Despite a hot start that included making a postseason appearance, claiming the sole Atlantic Division title in franchise history and winning the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award—all in 2007—things quickly turned sour for this club under Colangelo’s guidance.
Toronto hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008, which was the last time the team’s record was at or above .500 at the end of the season (a meager 41-41).
Did MLSE make the right call to move Colangelo?
The Raptors finished their dismal 2012-13 campaign with a disappointing 34-48 record, despite making a pre-trade deadline splash to acquire star swingman Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies.
The acquisition was yet another questionable one by Colangelo, who also failed to move struggling and ineffective big man Andrea Bargnani at the deadline.
While not all blame should fall on the head of basketball operations for this squad’s failures, Colangelo certainly deserves a majority of it for failing to build a proper roster and put a contending product on the floor.