Toronto Raptors: Meet Bryan Colangelo, the NBA's Biggest Con Artist
I Hate Mondays is columnist Dave Golokhov's pessimistic, sarcastic compiled thoughts on sports. For a more regular dose tag-in at Twitter with @davegolokhov
Over the last five years in the NBA, there has been no bigger con artist than Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo.
When he was hired in 2006, he absolutely looked the part. With his clean-cut style and his sharp-looking suits—if the Raptors were a single, middle-aged, horny female who had just hired a Happiness Consultant, a hung Ray Drecker had just walked through the door. He was suave, it appeared he knew the moves and he led you to believe that his services were worth every penny.
Little did they know that Colangelo was no more capable of running the Raptors front office than the coach of a high school gym class.
The franchise started with Chris Bosh, a lottery pick and cap space. But Colangelo's moves have landed the team on more snakes than ladders and years later, they have actually regressed.
It started with the selection of Andrea Bargnani, also known as Dirk Nowitzki II. Right from the get-go, by declining to trade down and potentially land someone like Brandon Roy to pair with Bosh—or even to draft LaMarcus Aldridge instead—Colangelo burned the Raptors best asset on a player that would never be able to play alongside the Raptors then-franchise player.
But they tried.
With Bargnani and Bosh, the Raptors front line was so soft they were sponsored by Downy. They played no defense, they didn't rebound and they were more scared of going to the basket than Vince Carter in a non-contract year.
While the selection of Bargnani was crippling, Colangelo was given a free pass. After all, the Raptors still had one of those general managers that was smarter than Chris Wallace and David Kahn. Eventually, he'd fleece someone and do more right than wrong, right?
In a league filled with more mind-boggling, regrettable decisions than Kesha's sex life (allegedly), Colangelo is deserved of a whole wing being honored in his name.
The best part about it, is that he's had such differently-themed awful decisions, which makes for an entertaining trip down memory lane.
The "Do I remind you of Kevin McHale?" category
- Giving Jason Kapono the full mid-level exception to quench the thirst for three-point shooting.
- Trading Kapono for Reggie Evans to quench the thirst for toughness and rebounding.
- Signing Jarrett Jack to a four-year, $20 million contract because since they had overcommitted at power forward, they may as well over-invest at point guard as well.
- Locking up Amir Johnson for five years and $34 million to provide the rebounding that the starting power forward can’t.
- Keeping a straight face while making Sonny Weems a starting shooting guard.
- The "let's perpetually depreciate our assets through trade" in the sequence of moving Charlie Villanueva for T.J. Ford, then Ford and miscellaneous parts for Jermaine O'Neal (so he can take advantage of Canadian healthcare coverage), to O'Neal and miscellaneous parts for Shawn Marion and miscellaneous parts, all the way to thin air.
The "GM's Gone Wild: European Roll Call" category
- Drafting of Bargnani, then prematurely signing him to an extension.
- Jose Calderon's extension.
- There was a $12 million direct deposit into Jorge Garbajosa's bank account in return for only 74 games of service.
- The vomit-inducing five years, $50 million contract for Hedo Turkoglu to sit around and eat Pizza Pizza.
- And a few other names that sting such as Linas Kleiza, Carlos Delfino, Rasho Nesterovic.
The "I like former mid-first-round picks more than Rex Ryan likes feet" category
- Marco Belinelli.
- Julian Wright.
- Patrick O'Bryant.
- Antoine Wright.
- Alex Ajinca.
- James Johnson.
- Jerryd Bayless.
- And the near acquisition of Marcus Williams.
Of the three lines of thinking, I don't have a problem with the latter as many people would agree that taking fliers on former quality picks is a shrewd attempt at trying to find value. But the flaw here is that the Raptors didn't pair those players with a good coach.
Can Gregg Popovich milk more out of Julian Wright than the New Orleans Hornets did? Of course. Is there any doubt that Nate McMillan would find a role for James Johnson? Very likely. Can Phil Jackson get more out of Antoine Wright than any other team has? There's a good chance.
But Jay Triano?
After Sam Mitchell got Tyrone Willinghammed, many Raptors fans assumed it was because the team was set on bringing in a big name coach. But Triano has done far more losing than Mitchell ever did and yet he has far more rope.
He's won just 36 percent of his games through two-and-a-half seasons, but it's one of the league's best-kept secrets as to why he's not even on the hot seat.
The beautiful thing about Triano is that if he was fired today, John Kuester, Eric Musselman and P.J. Carlesimo would be more sought-after to head coach a team than him.
When you add it all up, all the balls are on the wrong side of the abacus. There is no other conclusion to come to than to acknowledge that Colangelo has no idea what he’s doing and is unequivocally one of the worst general managers in the NBA.
As I once asked a good friend and die-hard Raptors fan when they first made the hire: "Did you get the wrong Colangelo?"
After all, it was daddy who orchestrated Team USA and oversaw the composition of the successful Phoenix teams. The Raptors thought they were investing in a rich bloodline but sometimes junior turns out to be Luke Walton or Chris Simms.
The answer to the question is unfortunately yes. We’ve all been conned. The Raptors did hire the wrong Colangelo. This one's just an empty suit.
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