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Toronto Raptors' Bryan Colangelo holds a news conference ahead of his team's NBA game against Chicago Bulls in Toronto on Wednesday, February 23, 2011. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Raptors' Bryan Colangelo holds a news conference ahead of his team's NBA game against Chicago Bulls in Toronto on Wednesday, February 23, 2011. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Daily Grind

Dowbiggin: Short-sighted thinking has Raptors stuck in endless loop of mediocrity Add to ...

The best thing about a mediocre NBA west coast swing is the anonymity of losing in the wee small hours of the ET morning. Lucky no one was awake, because the recent sputter out west by the Toronto Raptors has left the team in its familiar demilitarized zone between the postseason and a plum draft pick.

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The five-hour-energy shot of Colangelo acquiring Rudy Gay has crashed like a patented 18-foot miss from the former Memphis Grizzly. The Raps compete, but they’re still nowhere close to a playoff team for the fifth straight season.

That means that Bryan Colangelo is a dead GM walking when Toronto visits Boston to take on the Celtics. It’s just a matter of time before the GM job is posted on monster.com

The worst part? Virtually no one cares in Toronto which is now besotted by the Buds.

The new owners at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment might be wondering if they should have tied the can to Colangelo earlier. After all, look what happened to the Maple Leafs’ record after they gave Brian Burke the pink slip. Would a similar switch at their basketball property have produced a similar bump for the Raptors?

Uh, no. Despite his bumptious character, Burke at least left his protege Dave Nonis some working parts when he made haste to Anaheim following his firing. Crucially, he also left Nonis acres of room under the salary cap to spend judiciously this summer if Corey Perry or other high-priced UFAs become available.

Colangelo did the opposite. While the Raptors talent base was mediocre at the end of last season, the cap issues were tolerable. Sensing his job on the line, however, Colangelo (with MLSE approval) went on a buying binge, acquiring nice pieces for not-so-nice prices. Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields were added to a payroll burdened by the Al Dente Destroyer, Andrea Bargnani.

The team didn’t get much better. It then seemed prudent to let nature take its course and allow the club go grab a nice spot into the draft lottery. Instead, for reasons best known to itself, MLSE let Colangelo grab Gay from the Grizzlies at a tidy $16.460-million per. Goodbye salary-cap flexibility, hello clank as another Gay jumper misses the mark. (Grantland’s Bill Simmons calls Gay’s deal one of the 30 least cap-appealing contracts in the NBA.)

Even with Bargnani dispatched, the Raptors are married to their current salary grid till at least the end of next season or, if Gay accepts his option, 2015. (There’s even talk of an extension for Gay.) Because they’ve been the best of the also-rans, the Raptors will most likely get stuck with a double-digit draft slot in June, hardly conducive to selecting a difference maker.

More troubling, who replaces Colangelo? With such a bleak prognosis, GM candidates will likely be limited to the untested and the desperate. Get used to clank, Raptor fans. You’ll be hearing the sound for a while.

Scotties bests Brier

We like to talk in this space about the importance of the drawing power of TV markets in sports teams. Big markets drive big numbers and, duh, small markets grab small numbers. This self-evident truth is more important than ever with TV networks paying so much of the freight.

Looks like you can add curling to that equation. TSN reports that finals’ ratings for the Scotties Tournament outdrew those of the Brier this year. That happens once for every time we actually win something in Roll Up The Rim at Timmy’s.

There are reasons being offered. The Scotties had a particularly compelling field. Due to the Brier’s Alberta location (the Scotties was in Ontario) the games came on later at night. (But then, the Scotties were up against the Oscars for its title game.)

The major reason is likely the Northern Ontario/ Manitoba matchup. While 914,000 viewers is nothing to sniff at on TSN, you can’t help but wonder what the number would have been like with a finalist from southern Ontario, Alberta or B.C.

Brad Jacobs’ underdog win for NO was a nice Cinderella story, but you can bet the sponsors don’t want it every year. Something the NHL should note as it props up ratings losers such as Tampa, Phoenix and St. Louis for the sake of parity.

Twitter fightback

The Twitterverse has become an unkind world for athletes and celebrities skewered by anonymous trolls. There seems no way to fight back. But one boxer in England has found a way to fight back against a critic: Post pictures of the troll’s home street and tell him you’re coming for a visit.

As this British boxer did.

The kicker to the story is that the boxer only learns after he closes his snare on his antagonist about the blocking device on Twitter.” @ woodhousecurtis just found out you can block people!! could of let me know earlier i could have saved 20 quid in petrol!”

Smoke signals

@ Global_Pollock Special chimney at Saddledome, if you see white smoke? Iginla’s traded, red smoke? he’s still a Flame, Lord have mercy. # heavenly flames.”

dowbboy@shaw.ca / @dowbboy

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