Bryan Colangelo: A Case of Impatience and Missed Opportunities

Robert Seagal-MisovicCorrespondent IJune 6, 2009

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 10:  Jermaine O'Neal #6 and Willie Solomon #5 of the Toronto Raptors react after a foul is called on a teammate in the second half against the Boston Celtics on November 10,  2008 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 94-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Considered one of the top executives of the year, one has to wonder exactly what has been the motivation or logic behind some of Bryan Colangelo’s latest moves as the general manager of the Toronto Raptors.

While it’s admirable that he has a zero-tolerance policy regarding failure, one can’t help but wonder why fail, and fail royally is all he’s been doing for the better part of the last decade.

I attribute much of his problems to a case of tunnel-vision and failing to see the big picture.

If every GM thought as he did, there would be no optimism in Oklahoma City and no hope surrounding a once-troubled Blazers franchise.

It was puzzling that he re-signed Sam Mitchell and thereby stunted the growth of Andrea Bargnani. It was even more puzzling that despite realizing that his team had just been annihilated by New Jersey’s wing players, he over-paid to sign an atrocious defender in Jason Kapono.

He passed on a potential Gerald Wallace for T.J Ford swap because he had concerns about Wallace’s health, and followed by adding a first rounder and an expiring contract to acquire a less talented, higher-paid, less durable Jermaine O’Neal. Hindsight may be 20-20, but wasn’t it obvious that the Raptors desperately needed an upgrade from Jamario Moon?

Not only has he gifted two mid-first round draft picks to the Pacers and Heat respectively, but if Marion walks, he’s done so with nothing to show but a 33-win season, Marcus Banks, and a Gatorade bottle sitting where last season’s 17th overall pick should be sitting.  This many blunders would have seen most GMs fired on the spot.

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When the Raptors traded Jermaine O’Neal last season, I was on the floor pulling my hair out. It was obvious to both the casual observer and Colangelo himself that Bosh wasn’t going to sign an extension this summer. It was also clear that Jermaine O’Neal was ultimately going to be worth a hell of a lot more as an expiring contract this offseason than he was at the trade dead-line.

The Raptors could have gotten far more for Bosh at the deadline, and considerably more for Jermaine O’Neal this offseason.

If the plan was to improve the roster, why would Colangelo have squandered the opportunity to trade Bosh for prospects and expiring players with perhaps a draft pick?

He could then have used the cap space, along with O’Neal’s mammoth expiring deal in a trade to a team looking to shed some salary for 2010, and re-tool on the fly while perhaps grabbing multiple lottery picks in what is looking like a deep but overall unspectacular draft.

These are just some of many questions Colangelo will have to answer at some point if the team continues to struggle next season.

He underestimated Calderon and traded Charlie Villanueva for T.J Ford. He inked Ford to an extension immediately, not knowing that he would have to trade him two seasons later while adding deal sweeteners for an over-the-hill has been.

He’s now overestimated his ability to re-sign Bosh, and with news that Bosh will be opting out in 2010, he now faces a lose-lose situation. Does he re-sign Bosh and ultimately over-pay for him, does he trade him for sixty cents on the dollar, or does he simply risk Bosh walking away for nothing?

If he drafts a point guard in this June's draft, he'll once again have misread a prospect, and one he's very high on in Roko Ukic. In fact, his biggest errors come from not understanding his own players. He traded for O'Neal due to a lack of faith in Bargnani, Ford due to a lack of faith in Calderon, and will potentially draft or sign a point guard based on a lack of faith in Ukic. It would be a colossal error.

Bryan Colangelo should hang a picture of Marcus Banks, Jason Kapono and Jermaine O’Neal in his office and place it right across his table. Perhaps he’ll then begin to understand the sort of joke this franchise has become under his direction. I have faith that he’s capable, but fear that his ego and overall approach will cripple this team for the next decade.

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