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.