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.”
“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.