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Tim Leiweke recently sat down with Brian Williams for TSN, and his comments regarding the Raptors are worth a viewing.

Leiweke was probably as honest as he’s ever been regarding the split with Bryan Colangelo, talked about how beloved the city of Toronto is by legends such as Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kevin Garnett, and also touched on the potential rebranding of the Raptors.

But it’s a comment he made in relation to that rebranding that caught my ear. After mentioning that winning should be the foremost priority of rebranding, Leiweke added this:

I think Masai is going to bring respect back to this organization quickly, and I think we’re going to have a competitive team.

You’ll recall that when Leiweke and Ujiri first took over earlier this year, there were subtle hints dropped here and there about the possible need to take a step back before taking steps forward and mentions of some possible hard times before success. It led most of us to believe that the 2013-14 season may become a year of tanking for the Raptors under their new regime.

Since then, however, the team’s only major roster change was trading Andrea Bargnani (addition by subtraction), supplemented by adding some bench depth. There’s certainly been no indication of an impending tank and if anything, the organization seems content heading into the season with a roster poised to make a run at a low playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Couple that with MLSE reportedly landing the 2016 All-Star game, and you wonder whether Leiweke and Ujiri have an early eye towards contending in that 21st 20th-anniversary season of 2015-16. Throw in Leiweke’s comments to Williams (which I realize included no specifics about when said competitive team is coming), and perhaps the plan is to take steps forward without the need to step back, as Ujiri was able to accomplish in Denver.

Whatever the case, I still believe how the Raptors start the season could factor largely into the immediate plans. If Toronto gets off to a start similar to their 4-19 disaster of last season, I don’t think Ujiri will be shy about stripping this thing down and looking ahead to the loaded 2014 Draft.

On a final note, we may get a resolution when it comes to the much talked about rebranding of the Raptors sooner than you realize, as Leiweke told Williams that should the organization decide on that path, an application for such changes would have to be filed within the next month or so.

Again, you can watch the interview between Leiweke and Williams here.

Comments (8)

  1. Very interesting. If nothing else, this whole season’s going to be interesting.

    I’d like to believe in TL and MU, but we’ve heard plenty of sermons about winning championships from the brass before, and yet this team is only a few losses away from being the worst team in the league over the past 17 years. Less talk more rock.

  2. Has Leiweke hinted at anything in regards to what he means by “rebranding”? Are we talking a full scale nickname/colour scheme/jersey change or just one or two of the former? That’s certainly something exciting to look forward to outside of the framework of the team’s performance.

    Although, it’s terrifying to hear what Ujiri is saying about the team considering all the bluster we heard from him and Leiweke when they came in. All the hot air about changes when we’re sitting with practically the same team as last year with the same coach. Hilarious. I still don’t understand why Colangelo was fired if there’s still this supposed uncertainty about the capability of the assembled roster and this is probably the worst year possible to strive for mediocrity based on some deluded sense of pride.

    Also, why don’t you tweet out links of the newest updates like you used to?

  3. BC was fired (regardless of the uncertainty) as you put it – because he had proven he was unable to be the one to change these current players into winning players….in fact the current roster he left behind is BC’s version of his best, and that is sad. How fast they move on a talent upgrade at this point is here nor there – how fast they move if they are off to a bad start is what’s key and Joseph touched on that. When the trades come to improve this team (whether it be piece by piece or tweaks or an all out fire sale) I rather have MU behind the wheel than BC. And from what I see so far is an improvement on this roster with a few minor tweaks – not championship title worthy, but MU doesn’t even have 3 month in his position and if that is what you expect from him after 3 month in an off season – then that is you who needs to get control of your outrageous expectations for immediate success.

    • PBI’s not expecting immediate success – quite the opposite, I think. He’s referring to all the innuendo early on about dramatic changes to this franchise. I agree with him – now the sense you get from an interview like this is that there may not be immediate dramatic roster change.

      I also agree with PBI on this – why fire BC and the put the team he built out on the court this year? What was the dramatic failure to see eye-to-eye all about, then? We know that BC thought the roster was pretty good and he wanted to see what they could do with some stability. We all assumed (was it ever explicitly stated?) that BC was canned for that opinion, because TL looked at the roster and saw a lottery team (all they’ve been so far) that needed dramatic change. We assumed that MU was brought in to do what BC refused/didn’t want to do.

      Now if the plan is “let’s see how this roster works out,” then why not keep BC? It looks like backtracking…

      In this interview the most dramatic talk is about rebranding and championships. Yadayadayada. Pipe dreams at this point. How about some more talk about what the next step is.

      • Yeah, pretty strange situation in hindsight with the GM switch unless you believe that BC would never have traded Bargnani and you had to facilitate his removal from the front office to indirectly facilitate the process of getting Bargnani off this roster.

        Even then, it doesn’t quite make sense because Bargnani missed over 50+ games last year and half the lockout season so he has been an inconsequential part of the roster recently, and the team was still a trainwreck for the most part so it was tough to make him a scapegoat for their performance.

        Very disappointing start to the Leiweke/Ujiri tenure relative to all the hype when they came in, it could be a disastrous season if the team wins 40 games and is forced to overpay to retain Casey, Gay, Lowry in an offseason similar to the 2007 one when BC got too caught up in unexpected success and it basically begun his downfall. I could see the same type of thing happening here, the situations are eerily similar with a new GM coming in and keeping a coach who is coaching for his job in a season where half the league is tanking so there are a ton of cakewalk wins out there that will pad their win total.

        • One of Colangelo’s failures, is he kept on ripping up the team each off-season/trade deadline. So, why complain about Masai not doing the same? Unlike, Colangelo Masai isn’t giving the fans any sort of false hope or talking up his players. It’s merely an evaluation period and he needs to extract value in order to get the team he wants, right now he isn’t dealing from a position of strength.

          Masai said he is looking at the 2015/2016 season for when he expects the team to be competitive, that’s more realistic.

  4. “I think Masai is going to bring respect back to this organization quickly, and I think we’re going to have a competitive team.”

    Wow, like PBI has already said, so much for all of this change he was supposed to bring to the team.

    It’s going to be fun to see how “competitive” this team is a year from now with a good chance of losing both Gay and Lowry in free agency.

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