Sometime in the coming days Raptors current GM and President Bryan Colangelo will sit down with the new man in charge at MLSE and plead his case for being allowed to continue as the man in charge of Canada’s only NBA basketball team.
No matter what side of the argument you are on it is hard to ignore Colangelo’s credentials and impossible to forget the last 5 years in Toronto without playoff basketball.
Some will argue he is the best man out there for the job and his recent moves in acquiring Rudy Gay and drafting Jonas Valanciunas have the ship pointed in the right direction, while others will point to his failures to get this team over the hump and that fresh blood is needed to take this team to new heights.
There are two arguments when it comes to Colangelo and his future in Toronto:
The Glass is Half Full
Bryan Colangelo wasn’t able to build a winner around Chris Bosh, but since CB4′s departure for the beaches of Miami he has done an adequate job putting together a young, exciting core. The young players on the team right now from Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Rudy Gay seem to indicate that this team is on the cusp of playoff basketball. In fact, the optimist would argue that if not for losing 12 out of 13 games in Nov/Dec they would have been right in the mix for the 7th and 8th spot in this year’s playoffs.
Colangelo knows how to draft talent. He caught hellfire for drafting Jonas Valanciunas with the 5th pick two years ago and there is not one person who would argue with that pick today. Valanciunas is one of the better young big men in the league and the sky appears to be the limit for him. Most GM’s wouldn’t have had the courage to take Jonas at that spot, Bryan did. His drafting of DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy and Ed Davis have all resulted in serviceable NBA talent. His drafting record is better than most GM’s out there. The only major blemish on his resume is the drafting of Andrea Bargnani first overall in 2006, though that was the same year the big Italian helped the Raptors win and Atlantic division championship.
Colangelo cleans up the mess he creates and constantly looks to improve his team. He was creative when adding talent to lineup with Chris Bosh in his tenure here and has been fairly successful in acquiring young talent and manageable contracts since Bosh departed. The Raptors are not handcuffed by the NBA salary cap and have flexibility to add talent and make trades. There are no “untradeable contracts” on this current roster.
With the addition of Rudy Gay the Raptors now possess a big name talent that can recruit other top-notch players here and one that can finally be depended on in crunch time. Since Gay was added to the roster, the team has begun to find itself and gel. The Raptors were one of the better teams in the closing weeks of the season. The team seemed to finally “click” and looked like a team that could compete in the Eastern Conference. Given a full year of this young squad the raptors are likely playoff contenders.
If the Raptors go out there and take a look, there aren’t many who can do the job Colangelo can. He has built an interesting young team and should be allowed to see the fruits of his labour. The Raptors are a team that need a little bit more time to gel and build on the success they finished the 2012-13 campaign on.
The team that Bryan has built is one on the rise, he deserves another year to see it reach the heights it is capable of.
The Glass is Half Empty
Colangelo has been in charge of the Raptors for seven seasons and has not seen the 2nd round of the playoffs once. Yes, he led this team to an Atlantic division championship in his first year on the job, but failed miserably to build a contender around star Chris Bosh. He then failed to get anything of value for Bosh, whom he knew was leaving as a free agent.
Since Bosh left he hasn’t made any significant progress. Yes he acquired Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry, but in a difficult Eastern Conference this team appears to be a treadmill team at best. This young squad does not match up against the elite teams in the East and never will with this collection of players as its “core”.
Other than Jonas Valanciunas, Colangelo has never acquired an elite young player that could be considered a future star. Amir Johnson is great, Rudy Gay is interesting, DeMar DeRozan is pretty okay. Name one of those players (other than Rudy) that would be a starting player on one of the top four Eastern Conference teams.
Then there is Bargnani. Whether it is fair or not Colangelo will forever be judged by the Bargnani draft pick. It was the franchise’s one and only first overall pick and it has been, simply put, a colossal failure. Colangelo went against traditional logic to choose Bargnani. Though he looked like a future star after year one, other than a few months in the 2010-11 season, he hasn’t been able to become the star the Raptors need. In recent years he’s been injured and when he is on the court he doesn’t rebound, hangs out on the three-point line and doesn’t seem to put in the necessary effort to succeed in the league.
The failures of Bargnani, fair or not, are directly tied to the future of Bryan Colangelo.
Pimply put, Colangelo should be judged on playoff performance. Any other GM who misses the playoffs for five years in a row and has a collection of players that may or may not compete for the 8th spot in the East (if their really, really good) doesn’t deserve to keep their job.
In closing, the Colangelo dilemma is a difficult one with solid arguments on both sides of the issue, but in the end it will be left in the hands of new MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke to decide whether this is a team on the rise or one that has already reached the heights of which it is capable.
Based on the success Leiweke has had in his career with the Kings, Galaxy and Lakers he is a guy Raptor fans should trust with this decision, no matter which way he goes.
The Zan Tabak Herald