Brian Burke has won over plenty of fans for his recent reshaping of the Toronto Maple Leafs - and you can count his Toronto Raptors counterpart as one of them.
"You could tell immediately what happened when Brian made these deals the other day," Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said Wednesday. "You could tell the effect was going to be a positive one just by the reaction of the media, the fan base, and even internally, you could see a sense of euphoria, if you will."
Colangelo has experienced plenty of that lately, with his Raptors (26-23) occupying fifth spot in the Eastern Conference entering Wednesday night's home tilt with the New Jersey Nets (4-43). It's the opener of a four-game homestand for Toronto, which has won five straight games at the Air Canada Centre and five of its last six overall.
While Leafs GM Burke stole some of the spotlight away from the Raptors with a pair of blockbuster trades Sunday, Colangelo and company have been turning heads with their sensational play.
Since dropping to 11-17 with a loss in Orlando on Dec. 16, the Raptors have ripped off a 15-6 run, looking more and more like a team nobody wants to face in the post-season. With his team now contending for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, Colangelo is looking to improve the roster for the pivotal stretch run.
It likely won't involve moving six players out of town, as Burke did over the weekend, but there's a good chance the Raptors will acquire some new blood prior to the Feb. 18 deadline.
"We're talking to a few teams to see if there's anything we can do to improve our basketball club," said Colangelo. "We've never sat back and been comfortable. We're always going to compete and improve our levels of competition.
"I'm talking about not only a tweak, but in a big deal, we're going to be a buyer, not a seller."
Like Burke, Colangelo is no stranger to big moves. He brought in nine new players prior to the start of the year in an effort to improve upon last season's dismal 33-49 showing. When the results weren't positive early in the season, fans started to worry.
"It wasn't just the fans that were worried about the slow start," said Colangelo. "We all were. But we kind of knew it was coming ... with so much change, those effects are going to happen.
"We had a (tough early) schedule ... it wasn't an excuse, it was a reality. We had the fact that everyone had to acclimate, including the coaching staff, to all the new bodies. But we seem to have found a nice balance. We're competing night in and night out."
Colangelo knows that the Maple Leafs likely won't find themselves contending for a title in the near future, but he believes Burke's decision to shake things up will have long-term benefits - much the way Colangelo's flurry of off-season moves helped shape the Raptors.
"To make a deal that clearly is going to work out, and that was proven as early as (Tuesday night's 3-0 Leafs win), it's a great feeling to make a deal like that," said Colangelo. "And it makes you hunger for more.
"I'm sure Brian's now looking at ways to improve the team even more so, because they've taken a step in the right direction, in terms of getting this team on track. To be competitive and entertaining and to excite the fan base that way, I'm sure he's very excited."
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