Bryan Colangelo

Multiple sources have confirmed that Bryan Colangelo has signed a two-year extension with a club option for a third year to stay on as the Toronto Raptors’ General Manager. The timing of this announcement is important since the 2011 NBA Draft is taking place on June 23, meaning that Colangelo will be able to focus on the Raptors’ draft strategy once he learns where the team will be picking in the first round after tonight’s draft lottery.

I’ve been on the fence for months about whether the Raptors should keep Colangelo around to run the franchise, but the closer we got to the draft, the more I wanted Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment to make this deal happen so that an established management structure was in place. Whatever you think of Colangelo’s track record in Toronto, I’m sure we can agree that a situation resembling Rob Babcock’s hiring as Raptors’ GM in June 2004 would not be a desirable outcome — the Raptors disastrously picked Rafael Araujo with the eighth overall pick in that draft, passing on Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and several other superior players in the process.

In five full seasons with Colangelo in charge, the Raptors have compiled a 183-227 regular season record and made two playoff appearances, losing in the first round both times. No amount of sugar-coating can hide the fact that Colangelo’s results in Toronto have been disappointing — particularly when you consider the pedigree and aura of brilliance he appeared to bring to this franchise when he was hired away from Phoenix in February 2006. After he won his second NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2007 when the Raptors won 47 games and their only Atlantic Division title, the team has regressed significantly as a result of a series of poor decisions on Colangelo’s part.

Why am I OK with keeping Colangelo around for the ongoing rebuilding project? Over the past 12 months, I feel he’s somewhat redeemed himself with the drafting of Ed Davis, the contract extension given to Amir Johnson, his ability to dump Hedo Turkoglu on the Suns for Leandro Barbosa, and the acquisitions of Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson in savvy trades. The Raptors’ 22-60 record this season was definitely grim, but DeMar DeRozan, Davis, Bayless and the Johnsons are all under 25 years old and they each showed strong indications in 2011 that they could be strong pieces in the franchise’s future.

The specific length of the contract gives me pause since I wonder if Colangelo will be more inclined to make moves with short-term gain in mind, but we can only hope that he’ll have an understanding with whoever owns this franchise in two years that he’ll earn his third year (and possibly another extension) if the team shows signs that it’s moving in the right direction. Perhaps the benchmark should be a playoff berth in 2013, since it’s probably unrealistic to expect the Raptors to make that kind of drastic improvement next season.

This announcement will undoubtedly cause a certain faction of Raptors fans to wail and gnash their teeth in despair. Without question, Colangelo’s performance with the Raptors thus far has been spotty, at best. But whatever you think about his ability (or lack thereof) to eventually turn this team into a championship contender, I will stand behind him as a man who knows basketball and is widely respected around the league. This extension gives the franchise much-needed management stability and improves the chances that the Raptors will pick sensibly from what appears to be a highly unpredictable 2011 draft class.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion in a knee-jerk response after the June 23rd draft.

Comments (20)

  1. Listen, dumping Hedo was a great move, but who was the genius who signed him in the first place? Do you really think this roster of scrubs – one that he has full responsibility for – is worthy of a contract extension? His handling of the Bosh situation alone was a fireable offense. We’ll soon see if Amir and James Johnson can do more than get tattoos, and if Derozan makes an impact other than being the worst 3 point shooter in NBA history.

    This is beginning to smell like McHale in Minnesota or even Elgin Baylor in Los Angeles… awful GMs retained by an ownership that is either delusional, apathetic or mentally ill (see the Clippers).

    This franchise has already had the stability of on leader for the past five years. And in five years, that leader has taken a bad team and turned it into a pathetic one. This move stinks, plain and simple.

  2. Frank: Most of the people who want Colangelo gone don’t seem to have a particularly sound idea of who to replace him with. I know a lot of people hype up Kevin Pritchard, but it’s not hard to poke a bunch of holes in the decisions he made in Portland. If this truly is a “roster of scrubs” — and that may be the case — that will become clear over the next two seasons. if the Raptors are still stuck in the basement in 2013, hopefully they’ll let Colangelo go.

  3. Yea but Hedo was a good move on paper, many people around the league thought it was a great signing. It wasn’t handled as well as it could have been but the blame for what happened with Turkoglu should be placed on Turkoglu, not Colangelo. Hedo is back in Orlando and still isn’t playing as well as he did when he was signed in T.O.

    Bosh was handled great, but its understandable that Colangelo didn’t want to blow up a .500 team going down the stretch to the playoffs which they only missed by 1 game, there had to be pressure to win games and get in, not trade Bosh and lose.

    The Johnson’s have the capability to be strong players in the league and I firmly believe that Amir may have been the best Raptor this season, he improved from last year and earned his contract, put up rebounds and high shooting percentages as well as playing through injuries. And Derozan??? How could you not be happy with his development? He has the ability to score 25 points without hitting 3′s, imagine the potential if he adds the 3-pointer to his arsenal. All 3 are young players and are improving year by year.

    Under Conlangelo’s term the Raptors have had the best record compared to any other Raptors GM, the only reason it seems disappointing is because the expectations are higher under Colangelo.

    I have absolutely no desire to see some random interim GM hired today to do the draft, butcher it and destroy the roster. Colangelo has started building something worthwile and he deserves the shot to see it through.

  4. Sorry typo there “Bosh WASN’T handled great”

  5. Scott,

    I usually tend to agree with your opinions. This time, however, I cannot say that we come down on the same side of this issue.

    I agree with ‘frank’ above- He’s able to get rid of Hedo, but who acquired Hedo? Before that, he was able to get rid of Marion, but who acquired Marion? He was able to get rid of O’Neal, but who acquired O’Neal? Do we sense a pattern here? These moves in particular are examples of how his reputation makes the trade seem like it will be a great thing for the Raptors. Until we see the results. Then he has to undo what he’s done…and now we have a new player to replace him. Until of course he performs according to his skill level, and not what he once was.

    He’s drafted well in finding Ed Davis and DeRozan, but then again, let’s remember that even one of the worst GM’s (Raptors and non-Raptors GM), Isiah Thomas, was able to draft a few nice players when given the chance. This is only one aspect of being a GM when it comes to building a team.

    You think his extension of Amir Johnson was a redeeming move? How? In which league does Johnson come close to earning his 5 year/$34M deal? Let’s remember that when the NBA most likely makes changes (significant ones at that) to salary caps, Amir Johnson will be one of the contracts that prevents this team from fully rebuilding.

    You’re timetable of making 2013 the year when the Raptors should make the playoffs is laughable. This team is stuck, for better or worse with the following players, unless Colangelo is cunning enough to trick some team into any of the following players: Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, and Linas Kleiza. Davis and DeRozan are the only players worth keeping around, and they are support players on a good team at best (assuming DeRozan can develop an outside shot). This team will be bad for a long time. This is a city where American players don’t want to live, and have moved out of to play in warmer climates, with better players. Sure, you can overpay to make players stay, but then you’r not left with money to fill in the rest of the holes around said player.

    Lastly, may I remind people that while he sure took some risks, and hit some ‘home runs’ (signing Steve Nash who was extremely influential in the re-emergence of the Suns’ success of the mid-late 00′s) he also struck out multiple times in a row without too much attention being called to it (Kidd-Marbury, Joe Johnson-Boris Diaw are 2 of the bigger ones). I understand that in Phoenix, the owner, Robert Sarver is known to be ridiculously cheap, and sort of handcuffed him in terms of what he could and could not do. I’ve heard it mentioned that MLSE would pay the luxury tax (assuming there is one with the new CBA) if in position to make a run deep in the playoffs. The funny thing is, I’m pretty convinced we’ll never make it there.

  6. @Allister- Signing a player over 30, when he wasn’t particularly athletic to begin with is never a great idea. Especially one as bad defensively, when you’re bringing him to a team who was known to be bad defensively. This is why Dwight Howard is so good. He cleans up a lot of messes on Orlando that people don’t even realize exist.

    Also, what does that even mean about the team’s record being better than before he was here? The Raptors were brutal then, and they’ve only been terrible during his time? That still means the team has been terrible. Why is this the bar set for him? A sub .500 winning percentage?

    @Scott I realize I haven’t provided a replacement, but one definition of insanity, is to constantly repeat the same thing and expect different results. I realize, that just like politicians, GM’s in these situations make moves for the short term, hoping they work out, when all they really do is hurt the team long-term. It probably would hurt, but the word ‘rebuilding’ needs to be used. It doesn’t seem like any expectations have been managed for fans. There needs to be an admittance that the team is bad, admittance that here will be some hard times, there needs to be a thorough assessment of players on this team, and an admittance of mistakes.This turn around isn’t happening over night.

  7. *especially one as bad defensively as Hedo is

  8. While I’m sympathetic to Frank’s argument and think the fanbase and media have generally been way too easy on BC, this is probably the best outcome right now. I don’t see how a new GM could have been brought in now given the ownership situation, and heading into a draft/offseason, we need some stability.

    I would have been really pissed off if he got a 5 year extension, but 2 years with a club option for a 3rd? That’s at least reasonable, and conveys a bit of a probationary tone.

  9. I heard that he may want to keep Triano around. Not sure why he would do this considering the team was dead last in defence last year. Triano is good as an assistant, but the Raps need a coach who knows how to instill lockdown defence…We need a coach who can attract big market players….we need an organization to attract big market players…how do we do that? Wade said after the game in the MIA-TOR Feb.16th matchup that he would never consider playing in Toronto….why is that? When Vince was here we saw that he could attract players….We need a franchise player to do so….Andrea is not that face…maybe derozan….but we need an elite franchise player…and we need one soon…..so teh question now is…Is Bryan capable enough to move Andrea, draft the next face of the franchise and preach a defence 1st mentality? we will soon find out….

  10. Terrible move by a completely clueless organization, the only positive is that they didn’t extend him for five years and we can’t even confirm if BC was really even asking for that.

    Stability when the recent track record of the executive in question is so spotty is not a good thing, BC’s tenure has been anything but stable from him gutting the team several times on a whim to compounding his mistakes by trying to correct them to suddenly entering a rebuilding phase when the Bobcats nixed the Chandler/Diaw for Calderon/Evans/Banks deal which was clearly made in order to contend for a playoff spot. There is no stability here, just a guy throwing shit at a wall and hoping something sticks.

    Also Scott, just because most fans aren’t educated enough to rattle off a long list of notable assistant GM and other front office personnel who might be worthy of NBA GM gigs doesn’t mean BC should keep his job.

  11. PBI: I know you disagree, but when you take the entire career of all current NBA GMs into consideration, I think the case can be made that he’s still in the top half of GMs. It would be nice to land a progressive, on-the-rise exec like the Thunder did with Sam Presti, but I’m not sure those guys (if they’re out there) even want this job.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of job Masai Ujiri does in Denver over the next couple of seasons. If he clearly outperforms Colangelo over that period, he could prove to be “the one that got away.” I actually wonder if Colangelo was happy to see him go since it meant Ujiri was no longer a threat to replace him.

  12. Colangelo is almost like an idiot savant…in some areas he’s great, but in others, he’s absolutely useless.

    He came into an ideal rebuilding situation. Cap space and a few solid young prospects.

    Five years later, we have and a few solid young prospects, no cap space.

    What happened in between? Nothing.

    Why is Colangelo considered a top shelf GM?

    Mathematically, it makes absolutely no sense. I guess it’s his sex appeal.

    Yes the man can make decent trades. He can turn an empty matchbook into a 3/4 full bic lighter. Useful…but only marginally. I really like Amir, and Bayless and Johnson are okay, but at the end of the day, they’re nothing to get excited over, unless you have a solid, productive core in place. Most, if not all of Colangelo’s coveted trades are glorified lateral moves.

    He’s made some decent draft picks…but so what? Davis is a great pick. DeRozan reasonably good pick, Bargnani was a disappointing pick. A so-so track record IMO.

    Last but not least, he makes absolutely nightmarish free agent signings. Kapono, Turkoglu, KLEIZA! Kleiza is still here, btw. I think people have forgotten about this disaster.

  13. Larry: Kleiza will make $4.6 million next season. That’s not a disaster. He’ll be 27 years old next season and if he can return to the level of performance from his previous two NBA seasons, that’s a decent deal. Turkoglu’s contract was a disaster from Day One and I called it as such at the time, but he got the Raptors out from under that albatross. Now we get to see what he can do with Bargnani’s and Calderon’s contracts. I’m not a Colangelo backer by any means, but I would never use “idiot” to describe him, in any context.

  14. “Colangelo is a moron” is hyperbolic internet nonsense. His logic in the past is clear enough – he spent the first few years trying to find a sidekick for Bosh, each of which failed but was also greeted pretty warmly in the beginning. When each of those moves didn’t pan out, Colangelo flipped them in fairly short order for another attempt.

    Now he’s working on a rebuild, and as far as I’m concerned he’s doing it right.

    There’s an inegitable hit/miss factor with GMs. Danny Ainge looked like an idiot before putting together his big three. Now it looks like he’s working on being an idiot again. Look at Dumars in Detroit – genius a few years ago, not so much now. Portland, for all their praise, passed on Durant and sure look to be stuck in a rut now with Roy’s and Oden’s knees. Morey in Houston gets plenty of praise, but where have his last few seasons gotten the franchise?

    Fact is, there’s a ton of “right place right time” in making trades (Pau Gasol?) and drafting (#1 pick – Lebron, Dwight, or Bargnani?). That’s the problem with judging Colangelo largely based on his work in the Bosh era. He’s only in control of so much.

    He’s a smart guy who can swing deals and who drafts well. I’m fine with sticking with him for thos rebuild process.

  15. SR – I understand that patience is a virtue, but with the team in the toilet, you have to ask – “Who’s to blame?”

    He hasn’t been in Toronto for 2 years – he’s had team to build something that resembles a real NBA team.

    Larry Sanders is right – the guy is an empty suit who has fiooled a lot of people into believing that he knows what he is doing.

  16. Ouch, dropped down to 5th, no Williams, no Irving, no Kanter, etc.

    BC looked constipated.

  17. Bargnani was drafted at 1 over all pick. What do you say about it? It is just unbelivable

  18. With regards to blame for recent performance, the most popular options are:

    * Blame Colangelo (for moves which haven’t worked out)
    * Blame Bosh (for not allowing us to get a significant return when he left)
    * Blame bad luck

    Those that require a figurehead so they whose effigy to burn generally pick Colangelo, though in practice there are fairly strong arguments for all three options, and I certainly think that all three have played a factor. (It’s interesting to note that if this season is taken out of the equation (and we knew the best case was probably no more than 32 wins if the nearly every last thing went well), that Colangelo’s record is nearly .500; if we had been a position to receive equal talent in return for Bosh, we might have had a .500 record and things might not look quite as awful over the long term.)

    To judge Colangelo fairly without Bosh in the picture, we need to consider where we are compared to other teams without their star players: Cleveland without Lebron? (We compare favorably.) Orlando without Howard? (If our players develop over the next couple of years, I like our chances.) Chicago without Rose? (They still have us beat by a mile – but it took them years of patient and careful development, with the acquiring of their star happening last, by way of a trade which netted them a high first-rounder; that’s certainly not what people are prescribing for us.)

    So: is Colangelo horrible? no. Is he super-awesome? I doubt it. Is he competent? probably. We can hurl invective at him now for his handling of the Bosh situation, but most of us would have done most of the same things in his shoes if we wanted to keep the job. Is there someone out there who is clearly better than he is? Hard to say. Would they sign with MLSE before Teachers’ sells their share? Very possibly not.

    Will any GM be able to pull off a miracle trade here? Well, we do have some assets, but Isiah is gone from the Knicks, the Grizzlies have stabilized, and Golden State and Sacramento are happy with what they have. That leaves Kahn and the Timberwolves as giveaway trading partners, and we know that a) they may waste their first pick in this year’s draft, but they’ll do it by keeping it, and b) even Kahn isn’t stupid enough to send Love away at this point.

    tl;dr: It is what it is, and much as some would like to punish Colangelo for his perceived misdeeds, being stuck with him for another couple of years is probably not going to be a bad thing in the long run.

  19. i never understood bc supporters so the guy keeps sucking at best mediocre and still wana keep em? and u wonder why toronto teams suck? first the organization as a whole is poor… racking up dollars i mean why should they care? fans are still filling at capacity the air canada centre while the product in return is awful….the argument of who to replace him with is also weak….heck i can do a better job than this clown high collar shirt wearing premadonna….talk about bringing O NEAL one legged dude often injured best days behind him…turkoglu ONE YEAR WONDER always been what he is now an average player with the kings ,10 mill jose 10 milll barg 10 mill wtf?…..and u wana trust him for 2 more years? loool laughable….any one of us would be fired at our day job with such results….

    ps: at least the leafs have a brighter future….now thats a gm brain burke that is had a no-team in the makin to a somtething…

    oh ya if he’s wasnt the american team gm triano would have never gotten to be an assistant…after all what kind a father would make his son look bad lol

  20. apparently Jerry West was available…

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