Reports are circulating that the Raptors are in “advanced talks” with 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski regarding Toronto’s GM position.
Is it news? Of course.
Is it good news? Let’s examine.
As I stated when it was first rumoured that the Raptors were interested in bringing in a new general manager to serve under Bryan Colangelo, I am under the impression that adding experience and knowledge to the front office can’t hurt.
If we’re only talking basketball experience, then fear not. Stefanski has been there, done that in the world of ball. He played under legendary coach Chuck Daly at Penn in the 1970′s and has served as an executive with both the 76ers and Nets over the last couple of decades. In fact, Stefanski was part of the New Jersey brain-trust that fleeced the Raptors in the Vince Carter trade. Though in all honesty, how hard was it to fleece Rob Babcock?
From a pure business standpoint, it also makes sense. Stefanski ran an extremely successful real estate funding mortgage business during his time away from basketball. He’s clearly a smart man who is well rounded.
But what about his resume as an actual NBA general manager? That’s where things get murky. Sure, he’s led Philly to the playoffs in three of his four full seasons there (averaging just over 37 wins per season), but his player personnel decisions aren’t anything to write home about, unless you’re writing a slightly depressing letter.
His most notable decisions in Philadelphia include signing Elton Brand to a disastrous five-year contract worth nearly $80 million while giving Andre Iguodala a six-year deal worth $80 million. The Brand deal was a nightmare, the Iggy deal looks decent some weeks and horrible at other times.
Stefanski’s true value is supposed to be in scouting, the department where he spent most of his time in New Jersey. According to his profile page on the 76ers website, as the Nets Director of Scouting, Stefanski “played a significant role” in drafting Kenyon Martin No. 1 overall in 2000. Make of that what you will, that draft sucked beyond belief.
Perhaps the Raptors want Stefanski to come on board as some kind of super-scout with the GM title, because I still can’t see anyone other than Colangelo making important basketball decisions on a day-to-day basis. If a scouting role was the case, I’d be cool with it. Add to the scouting department while also adding an experienced executive who has probably made tons of important connections over the last 25 years. Sounds great.
I can tell you that I would trust a team of a Colangelo, Stefanski and Dwane Casey a lot more than I trusted a team of only Colangelo and Jay Triano. And that’s honestly not a knock on Jay.
The other factor to consider when determining whether this would be a “good hire” is to look at who else was in the mix for the job. Former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey and former Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard were reportedly the other candidates. I think most fans would have Stefanski as the third choice, at best, on that list of four.
I won’t pretend to know who’s actually the smartest basketball man out of the group, because we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but from a pure team performance standpoint, I would have preferred Lindsey. If others on the list turned the job down or the Raptors honestly feel that Stefanski is the right man for the job, so be it, but if a high ranking member of the Spurs management team was available, and Toronto didn’t pounce on it, could we really call the appointment of Stefanski a good hire?
Before I conclude, I have just one more question. Am I the only one asking why the Raptors didn’t give Masai Ujiri a chance to be general manager under Colangelo if they were thinking of having someone eventually fill that role anyway?
Of course, this entire report/rumour could have been a simple scheme from the brass at MLSE to force us here at RaptorBlog to post something new to help get Raptors fans through the lockout. In that case, you’re welcome teachers.
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