So About This Colangelo Fellow…

There’s been some discussion about this topic on Raptorblog.com and Raptor Republic, as well as in the comments on this blog. Raptor Blog’s Scott Carefoot discussed on his blog about how MLSE has indicated that they will pick up the option on Bryan Colangelo’s contract for next season.

“So when I learned that Colangelo is apparently going to continue running this team for the forseeable future, I felt neither elation nor disgust. I felt relief. I mean, honestly, look at the assclowns that have run the other Toronto sports franchises over the past few years. We could do A LOT worse.”

Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but an endorsement nonetheless.

Ironically, on Raptors Republic Altraps posed this question:

If Bosh walks this summer without a S&T or we get limited value back in return, how much of the blame should Colangelo shoulder?

Meanwhile, a rather rude reader of this blog argued (badly) that Colangelo has screwed up from day one and has driven the Raptors team into the ground. He, no doubt, is a proponent of firing Colangelo.

Obviously there are some differing opinions on how Colangelo has done so far during his tenure of the Raptors. Anyone who hasn’t read my Colangelo retrospective, might want to look through it if you’ve got (a lot of) time.

Firstly, let’s get this out of the way. I’m very happy that Colangelo is going to get his contract extended, although not really surprised. The four year period that Colangelo has been in charge of the franchise is the most successful four year period in it’s history. Okay. Faint praise for a team that has seen little on-court success, but it’s not nothing.

Keep in mind, I liked the hiring of Colangelo, but was well aware of the fact that, despite his success, he’s never built a team that has reached the Finals. The Phoenix Suns were a great team, but defense was not their strong suit, and teams that don’t play great defense don’t tend to win Championships.

One question that is often ask is, does Colangelo understand the importance of defense?

Well, it might you to discover that Colangelo likes defensive players a lot more than people seem to think. One just has to look at the first team that Colangelo built when he came to town. Colangelo first traded for Nesterovic, a center who played above average positional defense and had played on the NBA Champion Spurs, a team known for their defense. He then signed two veterans from Europe who stabilized the starting unit’s defense by playing above average defense. The team that ended up winning 47 games and winning the Atlantic Division, did so by playing above average defense.

Two of Colangelo’s biggest trades over the next couple of years were acquiring Jermaine O’Neal, a fierce low post defender and good shot blocker, and then trading him for Shawn Marion, an athletic rebounder with a reputation as a very tough defender.

Of course Colangelo’s been criticized for his signing of Turkoglu, a player who many feel, is somewhat lacking defensively. Those people don’t seem to realize that, of the eight players that Colangelo brought in this past summer, six are above average defenders and DeRozan certainly has the ability to be. The player that has gotten the most flak on the defensive end, Calderon, was on the roster before Colangelo even took over.

Okay, so maybe Colangelo understands the importance of defense a little more than it appears, but if Bosh ends up leaving this summer, will it be Colangelo’s fault?

Well, first of all, I think it’s rather a silly question. If Bosh leaves, there will no doubt be a multitude of reasons, none of which may have anything to do with Colangelo. Of course, if Bosh leaves for nothing, instead of through a sign and trade, can we blame Colangelo for either not surrounding Bosh with the right players, or not getting something for Bosh when he had a chance (like before the trading deadline)?

Whether you like the makeup of the Raptors, you have to admit that there’s a lot of young talent on this team. Without their franchise players, I like the future of the Raptors far more than I like the future of Cleveland or Miami. If nothing else, Colangelo has acquired a collection of players whose value will only go up. Now, keep this information in mind for later.

Some feel that Colangelo should trade Bosh right now, or risk losing him for nothing, even though they would really only get 60 cents on the dollar for him. Well, a GM who trades a player for less than he’s worth because they are afraid he MIGHT not re-sign will never, ever be a successful GM. Good GMs takes risks because they know that’s the only way to win.

Jerry West traded away a top 10 center in his prime (Vlade Divac), without any guarantee that he could sign Shaquille O’Neal away from Orlando. And he traded him for a 16th pick. Can you imagine if Colangelo had traded away Bargnani for the 16th pick? Even I would have said he was nuts. Of course that pick ended up being Kobe Bryant and Shaq DID end up signing with the Lakers.

So, maybe you don’t like the direction that Colangelo has talent the team and feel that if Bosh leaves, that’s why. If you want Colangelo fired, who exactly do you replace him with. Obviously, as Scott Carefoot so aptly pointed out, none of the leagues top GMs are going to be leaving their post to come to Toronto, so you have to look elsewhere.

It’s been pointed out by many that Toronto should try and hire an executive from a franchise like San Antonio. It worked for Oklahoma City, didn’t it? Okay, great, but there are two problems with this idea. The first is that I would think San Antonio has pretty much been picked clean by the rest of the league since there are already several GMs who have come to their posts via San Antonio. The second problem is that just because someone worked under a great GM, doesn’t actually make them a great GM. It’s just not logical, and if I really have to explain it, you’re probably in the wrong place.

Of course there’s someone like Houston’s Daryl Morey, who is the flavour of the month and a trailblazer for the statistical-based analysis of players that is becoming so popular. Morey has built a team that, without it’s two injured stars, has competed with a roster made up of modestly priced hustle players.

There are several problems with trying to hire the next Daryl Morey, the least of which is finding out who it is, and luring him to Toronto. First, Morey has done nothing yet. Since taking over, the Rockets have lost in the first round once and in the second round the next season. This year, they’re in real danger of missing the playoffs altogether. People like to point out that Colangelo has never won a Championship, well Morey has never even gotten his team to the Conference Finals. Also, while Morey was able to pluck Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry late in the draft, he traded away Nicolas Batum, and traded away the pick that would become Omri Casspi, who could end up making the All-Rookie first team.  Needless to say, he’s not perfect.

No, Morey is not perfect, but neither is any other GM. It wasn’t so long ago that Joe Dumars was the toast of the NBA town and touted as one of the top in the league. Today, he’s looking at a lottery team that won’t be under the cap until 2011, and his two big free agent signings were pretty much disasters, at least in helping the team get back to it’s winning ways. Plus, more people are remembering how he bypassed Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade to draft Darko Milicic.

Geoff Petrie was probably the GM most looked up to when Sacramento was battling the Lakers back around the turn of the century. Then, as they faltered, Petrie’s reputation became tarnished. A few bad moves and Sacramento was back to where they had been for so long before Petrie took over. Only recently has his star been back on the rise.

Then there’s the case of Danny Ainge. Yes, the same Danny Ainge who is revered for bringing the Championship ways back to Boston. But it’s also the same Danny Ainge who was reviled for so many years for bad drafts, bad trades and bad signings (Brian Scalabrine, anyone?). Only by somehow pulling a rabbit out of a hat and grabbing both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in trades, was he able to save his reputation. What Aigne is being lauded for now, is collecting a bunch of young, talented players he could use as pieces to get exactly what he wanted, which was Allen and Garnett. Sound familiar?

See, the funny thing about the life of a GM is that success is fleeting and your star can fall as quickly as it can rise. One trade can cement a reputation or kill it. The fact is, that Bryan Colangelo, despite his faults, is one of the better GMs in the league, and it’s also a fact that he’s given the Raptors the chance to be more successful than they ever have been.

In the end, that’s all that matters.

[Coming up this week, I’m going to look back at the predictions I made before the season, and see how I’ve done.]

8 thoughts on “So About This Colangelo Fellow…

  1. Good post. People don’t seem to realize that just because you get rid of a guy doesn’t mean his replacement is going to be better. I think Colangelo is one of the top GMs in the league, but even if his detractors don’t, surely they don’t believe he’s inept. And there’s a very real chance that were he to leave, he would be replaced by someone who is truly inept.

    Also, I’m not one to harp on grammar and point out mistakes to bloggers because mistakes happen. I say this only because it happened three times in the post and maybe you don’t know the rule. The possessive “its” takes no apostrophe.

    • GM,

      Raptor fans’ memories seem to be very short. It’s strange, because they also seem to undervalue the good players and overvalue the bad ones. Pops, Ukic and Humphries were future all-stars, but Bosh and Calderon can’t do anything right.

      And, yes, I have a problem with that particular grammatical issue. Normally, I’m pretty good in that area, but I seem to have a mental block when it comes to `its’. Don’t know why.

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  3. Can’t say he’s done poorly but also can’t say he’s been great either. The main issue I have with Colangelo is that there doesn’t seem to be a long term vision in place.

    When things are going well it’s his ‘core’ group of guys but when it doesn’t go so well he makes changes, which is fine, but many of the good GM’s are just tweaking their roster each year. He seems to be continually overhauling it.

    The team he has put togther this year has played well, however the team he put together last year was horrendous but he said the same things about both teams going into the year (50 wins).

    For me, his biggest win or loss will be if he gets CB to re-up. Also if he can convince MLSE to spend a little more and get in some veterans with ability that can help the team, would also be valuable. If he can do these things and settle down on the roster overhauling (unless you’re bringing in a major piece)then I think most fans would be absolutely fine with BC remaining GM. Just stop trying to convince us how good this team is or could be. The results on the court will speak volumes.

    • sleepz,

      I disagree. I felt a little that way with the 2007 group, because I didn’t see a lot of room for improvement, but I do with this group. It’s young and have a lot of players with some potential.

      And I think Colangelo has a quick trigger finger, but I have to say, I’ve never disagreed with him rehauling the roster when he has. When he took over, I think it was definitely in need of an overhaul, and again this past summer. Most of the time his hand has been forced by one thing or another, like a free agent leaving (Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion). And you can’t argue with the results because every time he’s done it, the team has been better.

      And as for MLSE, I’ve never seen them as a detriment to improving the team. I’m a firm believer that a team shouldn’t go into the luxury tax unless they’re a contender, and the Raptors have never been one. They certainly allowed Colangelo to hand out some big contracts, and never stooped him from doing anything he wanted to.

  4. I’m not going to say that there isn’t room for this group to improve. They’re all young players so there is definitely room for them to grow and get better. My concern is that last year the team was completely different from this year’s team but didn’t he see that the team last year couldn’t compete for even a playoff spot?

    I agree he should make changes when they’re needed but hasn’t he been here long enough to not have to make huge roster changes? He’s calling the shots. It’s not like this is or was an aging roster. He’s overhauling his own moves. When he took over he certinaly can’t be blamed for overhauling the roster at that time but shouldn’t he be at fault for putting together last years squad?

    He has made some solid moves this year don’t get me wrong. Amir, Weems, Jack and possibly Evans were all good off-season acquisitions, however we stil have permiter defensive issues which has been a problem for years and we given out ‘questionable’ contracts to Turks and Jose. Yes Jose definitely deserved the money at the time but he was proclaimed as part of the ‘core’ and now is playing the role of back up pg again and won’t be a starter anytime soon. Is he still part of BC’s core? Not so sure anymore. I’m point to all this is at some point the GM has to settle on a roster and let that ‘core’ group play together. Our core group has has gone from Bosh, TJ, Calderon, to Bosh, Calderon, Barg’s (with JO as a hired gun) to Bosh, Barg’s, Turk’s and Derozan? I’ dlike a little more roster stability. I don’t think you can build anything long lasting if things are continually changing.

  5. I agree about consistency, but I also believe you have to be willing to make changes if you don’t believe in what you’ve got.

    A lot of it is perception, though. To Colangelo, Bosh and Bargnani were probably always the two core players. I think moving away from Ford as a core player was smart, and you’d probably agree. And who’s to say that he doesn’t believe Calderon still is a core member. He’s not making coaching decisions, so shouldn’t be telling his coach who to start.

    It’s his job to find players, and Triano’s job to use them as he sees fit.

  6. I read a lot of comments by Altraps. I came to the conclusion that he hates Bryan Colangelo so much, that he’d rather see the Raps fail than BC succeed. He is a very weird kind of Raptors fan.

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