On Wednesday evening, Raptors season seat holders were sent the following video of Tim Leiweke…

Most addresses that go from sports executives to fans are lame and hardly worth writing about, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Leiweke, it’s that when he speaks, something worth discussing will come up.

The first half of the recorded message seems like the aforementioned generic address to fans, but things get interesting around the midway point as Leiweke serves up a couple of statements that should excite Raptors fans while (unintentionally?) throwing the Bryan Colangelo Era under the bus…again.

“This isn’t going to be easy. I know in the past, we as an organization have maybe made commitments that we weren’t prepared to ultimately live up to. Those days are over. We won’t create unrealistic expectations. But I will tell you this, we are going to get out of 7-11. It’s not a place you want to live. We want to win a championship. And we’re going to do whatever we need to do, no matter how much hard work, no matter what the resources.”

Leiweke continues…

“We are headed in a direction where you are going to be proud of this organization again. We’re going to try very hard to live up to the expectations, and once and for all, over-deliver instead of under-deliver.”

Between the poorly followed through commitments and unrealistic expectations comments, as well as the “under-deliver” quote, I don’t think I need to spell out how one might read this as another shot at Colangelo, whether intended by Leiweke or not.

In terms of the actual message being sent, Leiweke continues to preach his vision of overseeing a team that is built properly to eventually compete for championships, not just to oversee a playoff team stuck in “7-11″ territory – that is, good enough to make the playoffs as a lower seed, not good enough to compete for a title, but not bad enough to capitalize on the draft.

As mentioned in my thoughts on the Masai Ujiri introduction, I believe Ujiri when he says that he’s going to take the next few weeks to evaluate the situation before deciding what the next step is. And I do believe that should a rare opportunity to improve the long term future of the franchise while also improving the short-term success of the team present itself, as it did in Denver, that Ujiri would pounce on such an opportunity.

But in saying that, the most realistic outcome might be for the Raptors to take a step back next season to put themselves in better position to cash in on a loaded 2014 draft. Between some of the comments from Tuesday’s press conference and Leiweke’s comments here about not creating unrealistic expectations and getting out of “7-11,” it seems the organization is at least hinting at, and preparing fans for, this possible outcome.

Either way, in Leiweke and Ujiri, it sounds as though the Raptors finally have executives on board who are looking far past the process of just qualifying for the playoffs and may actually be considering a proper rebuild (no “accelerated rebuilds” here) for the first time since the franchise’s expansion years.

That in itself is a breath of fresh air.

***

UPDATE: It doesn’t feature the same bold statements and subtle jabs of Leiweke’s address to fans, but if you’re interested, here’s a link to Ujiri’s address to season seat holders.

Comments (27)

  1. If I was a betting man, I would put money on Ujiri pulling a big draft day deal…

  2. Yep. Welcome to the Raptors Kevin Love.

  3. Karl out in Denver: let the speculation begin

    • wow it’s a longshot for us but, maybe masai gives us a chance..? plus we could probably pay him what he wants.

  4. George Karl no longer the coach for the nuggets…. might it be worth it to look in his direction to replace Casey? I don’t mind Casey, but why not have Casey focus on defence and Karl do his thing (offensive coordinator).

    • Karl wouldn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding process at this point in his career. I think Ujiri is going to give Casey a chance on the final year of his deal. Unless their upcoming meeting goes absolutely horrible, I still see Casey here for 2013-14 at least.

      • Yeah, I can only hope though. I think Karl and Casey are buddies so I don’t think he would like to take his buddies job.

        • buddy’s*…. sorry for the spelling mistake. unlike youngjames I don’t always have the time to write properly.

          • @True Toronto Fan – your right there chief – you’ll never have ANY of the skills I have. Let me correct what you meant to say: “I can’t type 80 words a minute and never will – therefore I don’t have the time to write correctly”….because your a Doug Smith Dummy!

  5. Thanks for this Joseph. I wouldn’t have found this info elsewhere. TL continues to talk a really good game.

    Looking to the weeks ahead – draft and Bargnani deal – I’m curious what we’ll learn about how Ujiri operates. Will it be an Anthopolous like cone of silence, or a Burkian pronouncement of what he wants?

    Does anyone know, from his time in Denver, what we can expect from Ujiri as far as communication around moves and upcoming targets?

    • Agreed, props to Joseph, had no clue about this message.

      Leiweke is certainly handling this almost as well as he could have. Unfortunately, most of the issues stem from a problem he himself created when so much of this drama could have been avoided by just letting Colangelo go. Man, Jerry Colangelo is one powerful dude, you can’t even fire his son.

      Also, Joseph has generally discussed the egos of some of the men involved in this turnover over the last few days, Colangelo’s ego being bruised from his “firing”, Ujiri’s ego being big enough where he wants to put his own mark on the team and step out of Colangelo’s perceived shadow, etc. But another guy whose ego playing a part has been slightly overlooked has been Leiweke himself, this is a guy who has hired two GMs over the last few years who lead their respective teams to championships and he has the same mindset here so you definitely know he isn’t just bullshitting when he says he wants to win championships here. You know he honestly believes it because he has proven he can do it.

      • No problem guys. I enjoy posting some quick thoughts on things like this and then discussing it with fellow Raps fans.

        Jays Of Thunder, if his time in Toronto is anything like his time in Denver, there won’t be many leaks ahead of Ujiri’s moves. He’s got very much the same ‘silent assassin’ type history as Alex Anthopoulos in that regard.

        PBI, I think Tanenbaum may have had more to do with Colangelo staying on here than Jerry did, but being JC’s son can’t hurt, right? And I completely agree on your observation of Leiweke. We obviously have no guarantees of success under the Leiweke/Ujiri combo, but between their own personal histories, you KNOW they truly believe it and mean it when they tell people the goal is to build a championship contender here, no matter what it takes.

  6. I’m liking his and Ujiri’s comments to this point, especially their honesty about things not turning around immediately. Hopefully they take the kind of approach Danny Ferry and Daryl Morey took last summer: recognize the mediocrity of your team, clear cap space, and either pounce when a superstar becomes available (Morey with Harden) or wait it out until someone’s available who’s actually worth splurging on (Ferry). Don’t make the Collangelo mistake of blowing your wad on the first big name free agent just so you can look like you’re doing something. Better to sit on your wallet than give a guy like Josh Smith a max deal.

  7. jonas valanciunas, a top 2 pick next year, and turning gay/derozan/bargnani/lowry into another good pick or a great player, or one of them evolves into that great player. That would give us 3 cornerstones for the future, from there you add a very solid veteran starter (something we sorely need in my opinion) and thats 4 of our starting 5 and leaves us with a solid bench with the players that remain. That is a team that could potentially be a contender for years to come.

    In a perfect world the lineup 2 years from now looks like: Wiggins, Valanciunas, bring back calderon (great at moving the ball around, wanted to play here), a solid veteran, somebody who can nail the 3.

    • I’ll have what he’s smoking

    • how many times must the raptors tank? seriously, its annoying and hoping for Wiggins is dumb because this team right now can be good, not championship but still good and down the road, i see Wiggins coming here anyways (when his rookie contract ends) because he probably realizes how big he could grow as a star returning to his hometown to bring a championship… its like the decision but reversed. Right now, raptors need to trade andrea for a 1st round pick and figure out the wing player rotation

    • +1.

      Though Calderon is not going to come back to a rebuilding team that traded him away. He is going to be on a contender next year…
      To get a high pick next year, Raptors needs to trade away at least 2 out of Derozen, Gay and Lowery.
      Any ideas what they can get in return for any of them?A couple of 2014 lottery pick would be perfect…
      Guy to Cleveland for their pick, and then flip the pick to a team like C harlot, or Orlando for their 2014 pick?

  8. I would just like to point out how badly people flip flopped their opinion of Colangelo after all this has gone down.
    The majority of folk on here , including Jo , seemed to think a Colangelo resign or play out of option was probably the route to take. Fast forward a month and consensus is he’s an imcompotant fool who drove this organization into the ground and can’t even be trusted to hand out towels.

  9. I think we can all agree that Leiweke seems to be a good guy, determined and genuinely optimistic to make it work here… but all his new era, championship talk so far should be taken for what it is: words.
    The same kind of words and excitement we were given when the blue jays signed so many nice sounding names. We’re not even at that point with the raptors so just keep the champagne on ice for now.

  10. Jermaine O’Neal once came here and talked a lot about winning a championship. Just saying.

  11. I don’t understand, I got shit on for not being overly optimistic after the Ujiri hire but Leiweke coming in and having championship aspirations is now a no no?

  12. 1. trade everyone but jval and go for a top 2 pick.
    2. trade bargs and try to get this team to the next level (which it may not be that far away from, but still is not championship material).

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