How Toronto Raptors Can Move Forward Now That Bryan Colangelo Is out as GM

Christopher Walder@@WalderSportsContributor IIMay 27, 2013

May 9, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri during the press conference naming him NBA executive of the year at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As a result of five straight losing seasons without a postseason berth, a winning percentage of just .422 and several questionable trades and signings, Bryan Colangelo has been removed as GM of the Toronto Raptors

Colangelo hasn't been completely relieved of his duties, however, as he will remain with the Raptors as their team president. 

All future basketball decisions will be made by the new general manager who has yet to be hired by Tim Leiweke, the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, according to

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,” Leiweke said in a statement. “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.

This is an awkward situation for everyone involved. If Leiweke intends to wipe the slate clean and start anew with this franchise, why not just terminate Colangelo from the picture completely?

That doesn't matter at this point in time. Colangelo is still a part of the organization, but a good chunk of his power has been stripped away from him. 

In retrospect, it's probably for the best. 

Colangelo's tenure as GM was anything but blissful. Yes, he did help bring the Raptors their first and only Atlantic Division title in franchise history back in 2007, but over the last few seasons, this team has struggled to win games in the Eastern Conference.

From signing Hedo Turkoglu to a five-year, $53 million dollar contract to overpaying for Landry Fields (three years, $18.8 million), Colangelo has left many fans in Toronto shaking their heads as to what exactly ran through his mind when he made certain player personnel decisions. 

That won't be a problem any longer. Those days are now over. Colangelo will never again make those types of decisions for the Raptors. He will have a voice, but ultimately, the final say will lie with the new general manager. 

With Colangelo out of the picture, where do the Raptors go from here?

Hiring a new general manager is obviously at the top of their to-do list.

Masai Ujiri, the reigning Denver Nuggets' NBA Executive of the Year, appears to be a prime candidate for the position. 

He has worked under the tutelage of Colangelo in the past as an assistant general manager, so the shoe would be on the other foot if he does return to Toronto. 

Ujiri helped shape the Nuggets into a legitimate NBA championship contender over the last three years, as Tyler Conway points out in his latest piece for Bleacher Report.

Ujir's resume speaks for itself. However, the last time the Raptors had a former NBA Executive of the Year—Colangelo won the award as GM of the Phoenix Suns in the 2004-05 season before coming to Toronto in 2006—things didn't turn out so great in the long term. Consequently, there would certainly be some skepticism from fans if he is given the job.

Would history repeat itself?

Regardless of who's hired as the new general manager, he is going to have quite a mess to clean up from the previous regime. 

What becomes of Andrea Bargnani? Are there any potential suitors who are willing to take 'Il Mago' off of the Raptors hands?

Choosing the 7-foot Italian first overall in the 2006 NBA draft was considered to be one of Colangelo's biggest blunders, but the former GM still believes that Bargnani has a shot to be someone in this league, whether he's a Raptor or not, reported the Toronto Sun:

I still would say there’s value in Andrea as a player. I get the fact that a change of scenery is probably best for all sides. I’ve publicly acknowledged that but, again, the new guy is going to have to decide how to handle it and there are a few options. You can obviously move down different paths with Andrea now.

What about Rudy Gay? He has a year left on his contract with a player option clause. Can the Raptors truly become a contender with Gay as the focal point of the offense? The jury is still out on that one. 

With the way this Toronto roster is currently constructed, a seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs is likely its ceiling. The Raptors can't continue to swim in mediocrity for too much longer. 

Changes need to be made. A fresh face in the front office with a new perspective on things is sorely needed.

The Bryan Colangelo era in Toronto is over. 

It's time to clean up.