When assessing the performance of an athlete, coach or GM/executive, there are two qualifiers that you must abide by – large sample sizes and recent sample sizes. Large sample sizes are necessary to eliminate the effect of outliers. A recent sample size is necessary because you have to give someone an opportunity for personal improvement on the job. If a player or executive shows a large new sample of work, why do we care about what he did in the past?
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at Bryan Colangelo’s tenure in Toronto, with a quick comment on each major trade, free agent signing and draft pick BC has made during his seven years as President and General Manager of the Raptors…
|Acquired Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley for Raphael Araujo||Colangelo won some fans early in his career by erasing the Hoffa Era, with Hump.|
|Acquired Rasho Nesterovic for Matt Bonner and Eric Williams||Rasho was serviceable for Toronto & although Bonner is better today, he was an expiring deal.|
|Acquired TJ Ford for Charlie Villanueva||Charlie, Andrea & CB4 would’ve been a disaster. TJ played well on two playoff teams as a Raptor.|
|Acquired Juan Dixon for Fred Jones||Meh.|
|Acquired Carlos Delfino for two second-round picks||Second-round picks rarely become rotation players and that’s what Delfino was for Toronto.|
|Acquired Primoz Brezec for Juan Dixon||Dixon at least acquitted himself like a pro at all times. Can’t say the same thing about Brezec.|
|Acquired Jermaine O’Neal for TJ Ford, Roy Hibbert & Rasho Nesterovic||JO wasn’t the right guy to help Andrea’s development. Should’ve kept the pick (Hibbert).|
|Acquired Shawn Marion & Marcus Banks for Jermaine O’Neal & Jamario Moon||Marion was effective during his short stint in Toronto (14 & 8) but his expiring deal made the loss of Hibbert, McGee, Hickson or Batum even worse.|
|Acquired Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono||Kapono was grossly overpaid for his skill set. Evans was the rebounding beast the Raptors hoped for.|
|Acquired Hedo Turkoglu, Antoine Wright & Devean George for Kris Humphries & Nathan Jawai||Turkoglu was a complete bust in Toronto. Humphries has produced the most since this trade but since Turk was moveable, it didn’t cripple the Raptors.|
|Acquired Amir Johnson & Sonny Weems for Carlos Delfino & Roko Ukic||In retrospect, this was a fantastic trade for the Raptors. Amir is easily the best player in the deal and still has room to grow.|
|Acquired Leandro Barbosa & Dwayne Jones for Hedo Turkoglu||Losing Turkoglu and his contract while getting a useful piece in return has to be considered a win.|
|Acquired Jerryd Bayless & Peja Stojakovic for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks & David Anderson||Bayless is not quite the same caliber player as Jack. The other parts in this trade were accessories.|
|Acquired James Johnson for a 1st round pick||The pick (Miami`s) the Raptors traded was the 28th overall and could have netted Chandler Parsons or Kyle Singler. Johnson was later traded for a second rounder, so it was a net loss.|
|Acquired Kyle Lowry for a 1st-round pick & Gary Forbes||Lowry currently sits 16th among every NBA player in APER (Adjusted PER) – most lottery picks won`t achieve that|
|Acquired Rudy Gay & Hamed Haddadi for Jose Calderon & Ed Davis||Rudy has had a positive impact on this team during his short time here, but the winner of this trade won’t be determined for some time.|
|Acquired Sebastian Telfair for a 2nd round pick & Hamed Haddadi||The Suns had a surplus of point guards and Telfair could help the ball movement in Toronto’s 2nd unit.|
The Jermaine O’Neal acquisition is likely the biggest regret of Colangelo’s career. It stalled the progress and likely hurt the confidence of Bargnani. It was a player who was well past his prime being exchanged for a mid-first-rounder in a very deep draft. That, and the James Johnson acquisition were both indefensible but not cause for dismissal. The Turkoglu trade was far from ideal, but considering how quickly Colangelo “un-did” that trade, it’s hard to make a big deal of it. Most notably, Colangelo may have won his last two major deals for Lowry and Gay. As the man who paired up the two friends who will be cornerstones of the team for the near future, BC should be allowed to see where they take this team.
Unrestricted Free Agent Signings
|Anthony Parker (3 years, $12M)||Solid value for his contract.|
|Jorge Garbajosa (3 years, $12M)||Injury derailed what could have been a good fit.|
|Fred Jones (3 years, $11M)||Good athlete that never developed his game.|
|Jason Kapono (4 years, $20M)||One-dimensional player. Highly overpaid.|
|Jose Calderon (5 years, $40M)||Not athletic enough to be paid starter’s money.|
|Jarrett Jack (4 years, $20M)||Great value. Wasn’t given the shot he deserved.|
|Linas Kleiza (4 years, $19M)||Can’t play either SF or PF in the NBA.|
|Amir Johnson (5 years, $34M)||This contract looks better every day.|
|Landry Fields (3 years, $19M)||Not worth the money, but could be a useful piece.|
Colangelo has made plenty of unfortunate free agent signings during his time in Toronto but he is always able to unload these contracts and often find a piece in return. The Kleiza contract can be amnestied. The Kapono contract was quickly flipped for Reggie Evans, who can be somewhat credited with planting the seed for a more defensive culture in Toronto. Calderon’s expiring deal turned out to be very useful in helping to acquire Rudy Gay. The Amir Johnson signing, which many people were very critical of, has turned out to be the diamond jewel on Colangelo’s resume. Incredible value for a player who is becoming a darling of the advanced stats community.
First-round draft picks
Player (Pick overall)
|Andrea Bargnani (1)||Bargnani has been and will continue to be the poster boy for Colangelo’s tenure in Toronto, whether fair or unfair.|
|DeMar DeRozan (9)||Has improved tremendously. Appears to be far from his ceiling. Only all-star taken after DeMar in 2009 draft is Jrue Holiday.|
|Ed Davis (13)||Not one player taken after Davis has more potential. (Your argument is invalid, Mrs. Vasquez)|
|Jonas Valanciunas (5)||Consensus is that he should have been the second pick behind Kyrie and that he would have been the second pick in 2012 after ‘Unibrow’.|
|Terrence Ross (8)||Has a tremendous skill set but needs to work on ball-handling and passing. Gives Toronto lots of depth on the wing.|
Whether or not Colangelo is given the opportunity to deal Andrea Bargnani is a major question. Either way, it appears the writing is on the wall for the seven-foot Italian. The mass booing of Bargnani on his home floor made it clear that this fan base is no longer willing to accept him on this team, and it’s hard to blame them. He hasn’t come close to living up to the expectations placed on any first overall pick, not due to a lack of talent, but due to a lack of effort. Any GM sane man knows that it’s time for both sides to get a fresh start.
Having said that, there weren’t many good options in that 2006 class. LaMarcus Aldridge was too similar to Chris Bosh. Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas and Sheldon Williams clearly weren’t the right choices. Rudy Gay was a reach considering he went 8th and Brandon Roy had red flags about his knees (rightfully so). This needs to be considered when we use Bargnani as a symbol for Colangelo.
Another important aspect of the General Manager’s job is to pick the correct head coach. Colangelo failed in his first attempt (Jay Triano) and legitimate questions can be raised about his second attempt (Dwane Casey). I believe Colangelo deserves to outlast Casey but if a change is needed, it will likely be Bryan’s last chance to get it right.
In his defence, Colangelo has nailed his last four draft picks. It wouldn’t shock me if all four of those players made an all-star game at some point in their career. This should be reason enough for Colangelo to keep his job, but if not, it will be enough to get him another GM job very quickly.
Four picks, a couple of trades and a very shrewd signing later, the Toronto Raptors have found themselves a very athletic core of six young and talented players: Jonas Valanciunas (age 20), Amir Johnson (age 25), Rudy Gay (age 26), DeMar DeRozan (age 23), Terrence Ross (age 22) & Kyle Lowry (age 26).
Given the performance of this group, it seems fair to allow Colangelo the chance to see if they can compete in the Eastern Conference. If the ownership group had a “playoffs or you’re fired” message for Bryan Colangelo at the start of this season, they should rethink that, because his work is worthy of a new contract.