Bryan Colangelo is out as the president and general manger of the Toronto Raptors but is being offered another senior management position within the NBA club.
The Raptors have yet to confirm the move, but a source within the organization confirmed that the one-time NBA executive of the year will no longer be calling the shots when it comes to the team’s future direction.
“He’s not the happiest guy,” said the source, who did not want to be identified as the club has yet to officially announce the change.
Colangelo learned of his fate last week while he was in Chicago attending the NBA’s pre-draft camp.
The 47-year-old did not respond to an e-mail sent to him on Monday seeking comment. A team spokesman said that there was nothing to report.
The move is the first big step undertaken by Tim Leiweke, the incoming president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the conglomerate that owns the Raptors.
Leiweke has stated that fixing the struggling basketball franchise, which missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year after labouring to a 34-48 finish this season, is his top priority.
Colangelo is heading into the club option year of his contract and Monday was the reported deadline in which the team had to let him know if it was going to exercise that option.
Leiweke has already engaged an executive search firm – Korn/Ferry International – to gather a list of potential candidates to replace Colangelo. Yahoo! Sports reported over the weekend that Masai Ujiri, the GM of the Denver Nuggets, is at the top of that list and is being seriously pursued by the Raptors.
Ujiri is certainly familiar with the Raptors, working for three years in Toronto under Colangelo and was one of the team’s assistant GMs before he was hired away by the Nuggets in 2010.
The contract of the 2013 NBA executive of the year expires this summer.
Another consideration to replace Colangelo is Ed Stafanski, who is currently the Raptors’ executive vice-president of basketball operations.
With Colangelo now moving into another, as of yet unspecified, position with the Raptors, the club doesn’t have to rush to appoint a replacement.
The future of coach Dwane Casey, who still has a year left on his contract, also hangs in the balance. It would appear that any decision on his status will be left to whoever replaces Colangelo.
Colangelo was considered one of the NBA’s brightest executives when he accepted the job in Toronto after building the Phoenix Suns into one of the NBA’s most exciting and successful franchises.
But after back-to-back playoff appearances in his first two seasons in Toronto – including his executive-of-the-year honour in 2007 – the franchise started to stumble on Colangelo’s watch.
The team has finished the regular-season with a sub-.500 record the past four years and this season got off to a disastrous beginning, 4-19 out of the gate.
Colangelo has been criticized for a number of dubious moves, in particular allowing all-star forward Chris Bosh to leave the team for next to nothing.
He also brought in veteran stars such as Hedo Turkoglu, Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion, which never panned out, and his drafting of Italian centre Andrea Bargnani with the top pick in the 2006 draft has perhaps been his biggest disappointment.
This past year, in an effort to turn around the sagging fortunes of the team, Colangelo traded to get Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies, a wing player with a bloated contract whose offensive contributions are a matter of some debate.
According to the MLSE source, Colangelo still considers himself to be a “basketball guy,” so how long he remains with the Raptors in his new position is a matter of conjecture.
When MLSE relieved Brian Burke of his general manager duties with the Toronto Maple Leafs in January, he was appointed as a special adviser. That lasted for about a month when Burke left to join the Anaheim Ducks as a scout.