In a dizzying chain of events that it seems only Toronto sports fans have been forced to get used to, the Raptors announced on Tuesday morning that Bryan Colangelo would be relieved of his General Manager duties while maintaining the seemingly higher position of team President.
The exact terms of Colangelo’s new contract aren’t known (is it possible that just the final year of his current contract has been picked up? Would they refer to that as an extension in a press release?).
In addition, the team says that it has created a “new” position of General Manager “that will have final authority on all basketball-related decisions” and that the new GM should be named within 30 days, after Tim Leiweke conducts his search.
So if you’re following, the team President, who was also General Manager as recently as yesterday, will give way to a replacement GM but will stay on as President without actually having any say over said new GM’s basketball decisions.
Though the new General Manager is expected to have full autonomy on the basketball side, the news release also states that “Colangelo will continue to advise Leiweke on basketball-related matters while also broadening his involvement with the business side of the franchise.”
In a final news item from the release, the team announced that at the suggestion of the MLSE board, Leiweke’s official start date has been pushed forward from July 1 to June 3.
This whole situation is very confusing, but reading between the lines, my interpretation of this mess is that Leiweke obviously didn’t feel comfortable with Colangelo building and running this basketball team (even though in the release, Leiweke states that “all of my due diligence around the League indicates that we have a fine, young core and a few key moves will make us a playoff contender next season”), but that Colangelo was still a valuable resource to maintain with his connections around the league and general experience.
Having said that, I’m sure Leiweke has plenty of NBA connections of his own between his former roles with the Nuggets and Timberwolves and his most recent role which had ties to the Lakers. And what happens if another team wants Colangelo in a basketball role? Are MLSE and B.C. serious about this new move to the business side, or is this just a temporary appointment until Colangelo finds his footing with another franchise?
It certainly seems possible that rumblings about Leiweke wanting something else and the board convincing him otherwise could hold water, and if that’s the case, the potentially promising Leiweke Era in Toronto sports is off to a discouraging start. I mean wasn’t the whole point of bringing him here to save the board from major sports decisions that they probably aren’t as qualified to make?
On Monday, I thought that Tuesday would finally bring us some answers. It turns out I’m left with more bewilderment and questions now than ever before.
Here are all of the quotes in full from the media release…
Leiweke – “After thorough evaluation and considering all the options, we have concluded that these changes will be in the best interest of the organization. By splitting the roles and having both men report directly to me, we are adding depth to the basketball operations group and giving the Toronto Raptors the best chance of competing for championships in the future. The new GM will inherit a great situation in Toronto, as all of my due diligence around the League indicates that we have a fine, young core and a few key moves will make us a playoff contender next season.”
Colangelo – “The future of this team and this organization excites me more than ever, and I am looking forward to being part of our future success. I will add whatever is necessary to help improve our basketball team while also expanding my efforts to increase brand awareness and influence growth of the game across this great country.”
Leiweke – “Bryan is skilled, knowledgeable and respected across the NBA and will be a resource that we count on to help build the Raptors into Canada’s team.”
On one final note, I forgot to mention that Colangelo will represent the Raptors at the Draft Lottery tonight. You can’t make this stuff up.