If you’re a basketball news junkie, you can probably guess who broke the news on Twitter this morning that the Toronto Raptors are about to hire former Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Ed Stefanski as their Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. Yahoo! Sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the news this morning and followed up with a more detailed article shortly thereafter. Wojnarowski pretty much breaks all the significant NBA stories — but I don’t want to get carried away in calling this story “significant”.
My colleague, Joseph Casciaro, detailed Stefanski’s less-than-impressive resume in a Raptorblog post a couple of weeks ago. Most notably, he was responsible for doling out monster contracts to crippled Elton Brand and second banana Andre Iguodala. Brand has three years and $51 million left on his deal while Iguodala will collect $56 million over the next four seasons. Clearly, this isn’t a man who should be entrusted with the coffers of an NBA franchise.
Luckily, Stefanski won’t have that kind of power with the Raptors. He’s reporting to Bryan Colangelo, “who will still have final say on basketball matters,” according to Wojnarowski. Stefanski is essentially replacing Masai Ujiri, who is kicking some ass as the Denver Nuggets GM these days. Colangelo likes to collect a range of opinions and insights from his underlings when he makes his decisions, and Stefanski will simply become another voice in the chorus.
In spite of his questionable contract signings, Stefanski has a reputation as a decent talent evaluator — as demonstrated by the solid mid-round drafting of Marreese Speights and Jrue Holiday with the Sixers. The 2012 draft is expected to be jam-packed with talent, so perhaps Stefanski’s opinions will prove valuable with that process.
Ultimately, this hiring shouldn’t really change your opinion of the Raptors’ front office, since Colangelo is still the man pulling the strings. By this point, most Raptors fans have made up their mind and will be set in their ways in terms of how they feel about his tenure in Toronto. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason to change your views on him now.