A week after he signed a two-year extension (with a one-year club option) to remain as General Manager of the Raptors, Bryan Colangelo called in to talk to Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro on Tim and Sid: Uncut. Here’s a recap of the key subjects they discussed, and you can listen to the full interview yourself by downloading today’s episode here or by subscribing on iTunes.
Here’s Colangelo on Andrea Bargnani’s statements to Italian media that had been translated by some people to indicate that he was unhappy in Toronto:
“What Dave (Feschuk) wrote was not totally off-base, but it’s just a little bit inaccurate and I think by Andrea making a statement and coming out and saying, ‘Look, none of what I said came across that way.’ What (Bargnani) said was not meant to be harmful to the city of Toronto, to the organization, to me. It was just, ‘Hey, I understand that I gotta get better and I’m gonna do that. And by the way, if they’re gonna trade me, I hope it’s to a warm-weather city.’
I did not hear the interview, but I was told that (Bargnani) was pretty upset about what was translated or communicated. … The kid loves playing in Toronto, he thinks the organization has treated him well, he actually appreciated the comments I said this post-season, which was very matter of fact: ‘Hey, if he wants to hit the elite level, he needs to work on these certain and specific things because right now he’s not an elite player but he’s a very good player.’ And when asked (by the press) if I would consider trading him, I said, ‘Nobody on the team is untradeable.’”
On the financial flexibility of the Raptors and how it will be affected by upcoming labor unrest:
“I have to be very careful how I address that whole issue but I will talk about the flexibility. I think that whether we have $7 million of capspace or $17 million of capspace, we are going to be one of the teams positioned well when the new rules come out — and we are going to be under a new set of rules one way or the other. We are hopefully going to be looking at a favorable situation for us, that we have prepared well for this. That flexibility should pay off in the form of the ability to sign free agents and add some veteran pieces that might make some sense for us. Sometimes that flexibility can be utilized to acquire players into capspace as opposed to just signing free agents necessarily so you’ve got both options there. It’s a nice place to be to have good young talent, we’re going to be adding a top-five pick in the draft, and then we’ve got the ability to pick and choose who we want to add with that free agent flexibility or the cap flexibility to add a player either by free agency or by trade. It’s a good position to be in for us.”
On the main draft prospects:
“We like where we are at five. I know that sounds kind of funny moving down from three. Obviously at three you control your destiny moreso than at five, but I’ve said the silver lining there is that we get a little bit less of a cap charge with the fifth pick which again gives us more flexibility and at the same time, we’re probably going to get a player who has equal or possibility better talent depending on how the draft unfolds.
“If we’re talking about adding a point guard, one of the three point guards will be on the board, whether it’s Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker. Kyrie Irving is likely to go number one, so that puts two solid point guards on the board in front of us if that’s what we choose to address. If you’re talking about the bigs that are involved, you’ve got Valanciunas who is Lithuanian and playing over in Lithuania, you’ve got Kanter who was supposed to play in Kentucky this year, the Turkish young man that we’re actually going to be seeing work out and interview in Chicago on the fifth and sixth of June. … You’ve got the unknown and high-riser Bismack Biyombo, who played in Spain this year. From about January on, he had some good solid minutes. … And then there’s a couple of players I call three-fours in (Jan) Vesely and Derrick Williams. At the end of the day, I think we’re going to get a really good player.
“There’s a couple of other players I would put as sleeper picks, in addition to Biyombo. We like Kawhi Leonard a lot, who played at San Diego State. He’s a really intense player, he kind of plays a little bit like a Ron Artest type. He doesn’t play with a lot of energy per se but he plays with a lot of intensity and it’s a quiet intensity. He rebounds the ball exceptionally well, he’s a lockup defender and does quite a bit that we need right now — he addresses some of the things we need.
“And I have to tell you I was so impressed with Brampton-raised Tristan Thompson. Great interview, he looked good in the brief workouts we saw. I’m really impressed with him. Probably a little bit of a duplication to Ed Davis, and we’ve said that we’re going to try to take the best player for our team which is a combination of talent and position or talent and need — but at the end of the day we’ve got to improve the talent on this basketball team.”
On Kemba Walker and whether his lack of size limits his NBA ceiling:
“I’m impressed with Walker for a number of reasons. First of all, we’re a very guard-driven league right now. You’ve probably seen what we’ve witnessed over the past several years that there are a number of things happening in terms of guard play. He’s not a big strong guard who is going to be able to defend necessarily with strength, but he’s going to be able to defend with quickness and keeping guys off-balance. You’ve seen the impact that an Aaron Brooks has had when he was playing at his best in Houston. We’ve always had a tough time dealing with what we call ‘waterbug-type guards’.
Kemba is a guy who can literally put a team on his back as you’ve seen him do at the NCAA level and score at will, score when he needs to. He’s a bit of a streaky scorer but he can will his team to win. Taking it to another level, to the NBA level, is going to be difficult. But again, with the kind of talent and confidence that he has, I think there’s going to be a good transition there for him. Is he ultimately going to be a starting point guard in the league? I think time will tell. Is he going to be a combo guard that can play a couple of positions? Time will tell, but at the end of the day, the guy’s got a future in the NBA because of his talent level.”
Is Jay Triano going to be the Raptors’ head coach going forward?
“I think that it’s fair to say that Jay has done a great job with this team to date. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do in terms of playing the young players and developing them. You look at the progress that DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis made in his tenure this year as a rookie even though he came off of that injury, at Amir Johnson putting up career numbers, those are positive things.
“The things that we probably haven’t improved upon and need to improve upon are things like defense and we need to sit down and talk and really break it down — why aren’t we doing better at defense? Why, at times, are we not moving the ball and having more efficiency on offense? We really want to talk philosophically about those things and I think that at the end of the day, we know enough about each other that there’s probably a good understanding. But we really have to talk in earnest and discuss this particular season, talk about the progress that’s been made with Jay at the helm, and then decide if he’s the right guy to move forward. … At some point in the next few weeks, we’re going to know whether or not that’s the direction we’re going. “