Jones on Raptors: Leiweke’s first call

Tim Leiweke will join MLSE on June 30. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
April 26, 2013, 3:00 PM

Tim Leiweke will take control of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment on June 30 and it won’t be long before the new CEO will have a big decision to make.

Does he extend Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo for another year or will he look to install his own guy?

By not employing Colanagelo for another year he will basically be making it very difficult on head coach Dwane Casey who had his option for next year assured at the end of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. Colangelo and Casey have become a package deal as they declared their support for one another at the season-ending news conference.

Regardless of what he decides to do on either side of the ledger, there will be a section of the Raptor fan base that will not be happy. If Colangelo returns, there will be some partisans that point to seven years where he was at the helm with two playoff appearances, three games won in those two postseason series and a five-year playoff drought. That group will say, it wasn’t getting done, time for a change and time to move forward with another general manager.

But there are always two sides to the story. The other group of fans will say, the team in 2009-10 should have been a playoff team and it had nothing to do with the team that Colangelo assembled. They will say after there were two separate eras, one with an all-star player as a centerpiece and since losing Chris Bosh to free agency the team has improved each year since his departure. They will contend despite the 4-19 start this season there was a 30-29 finish with a look at the eighth spot that got away during a March losing skid. Those same fans will say that there is improved talent with the acquisition of Rudy Gay and more than half the games this season, 42 to be exact, that were within two possessions (five points) with a minute to play.

Yes, you can spin it either way and it would be tough for the other side to argue.

Colagnelo constructed a playoff team when he arrived in Toronto but his strength has been his weakness in a sense. He has not been afraid to make moves and shuffle the deck in pursuit of a winner, particularly when he had an all-star player in Chris Bosh. Did he shuffle the deck too quickly with players and coaches in his first three seasons in Toronto? Remember Sam Mitchell was 8-9 when he was fired in his third season under Colangelo after two consecutive playoff appearances with Colangelo-built squads.

Over his tenure in Toronto, just over 70 players have worn a Raptor uniform. He has been more patient some would argue in the post-Bosh era, affording the young talent a chance to develop devoid of winning. Yes Raptor fans, winning and development are incongruent. But without a playoff appearance, there is one part of the fan base that wants results and could care less about development. But a comparison between the 22-60 team and the squad that hit the floor at the end of the season that finished four games out of the playoffs shows that there is more talent and the potential for a playoff spot next season. It’s not just the eye test, take a look at what some of the numbers say.

And it is the man, Colangelo, who loves to move chess pieces, who is now talking about consistency in the roster as he feels he is closer to having a playoff group. The big question is does he get the chance?

A new general manager may want to make a change. The one thing that usually happens in any venture when change is made is that things get worse before they rise to a productive level.

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