Transcript: Colangelo talks struggling Raptors

December 9, 2012, 10:42 PM

Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo joined Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin during the first quarter of the broadcast of the Raptors game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon. After a 32-point blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night and the team sitting at 4-16 coming into the contest against the Clippers, Colangelo talked disappointments, trade rumours and what he thinks the team’s biggest issues are. Hint: He doesn’t think the issue is a lack of talent.

Here’s some of what Colangelo had to say…

Bryan Colangelo: Well obviously we’re very disappointed and the performance has been unacceptable. I think yesterday, just talking to some media members; we wanted to make sure people knew where our thoughts were. I do not believe that it’s a talent issue right now; I do believe that it’s about a team coming together. We’re very young, we’ve had some injury issues, we’ve got the schedule, but we’re not making excuses, we know there are some things that are broken and need to be fixed right now, but again, it’s a lack of focus and a lack of attention to detail, I think more than anything right now.

Question: Defensively, what’s been the issue right now?

Bryan Colangelo: There’s been some slippage, clearly. One of the things you’ve got to point to obviously is you’ve got a 20-year-old starting centre that’s come in and he’s learning the nuances of what we’re doing from a system standpoint, but also learning the game at the same time. It’s been difficult to integrate some new faces, but there has been, again, a lack of focus with respect to the defensive progress that we made last year.

Question: DeMar DeRozan, he mentioned that the team meeting was good, he was very positive about that…talked about defence.

Bryan Colangelo: There’s no doubt that the defence is what created a lot of our forward progress last year and it will create opportunities for us to get out and run offensively which is something we needed to do. But we’re not moving the ball that much on offence; we’re not running as much as we should. We do at times, and we look good and we score easy baskets. Unfortunately again, staying in that system, sometimes when a team scores against you, you drop your shoulders and you stop your forward progress. There’s a lot of things that we need to be working on but it does begin with defence. But we’ve really got to improve on both sides of the ball right now.

Question: Andrea Bargnani, how does he get his consistency back?

Bryan Colangelo: It was an immediate connection with coach Casey last year, it looked like he was putting up all-star numbers obviously for the first 15-18 games. He has not gotten back to that level. It looked that way early in preseason that he was coming back ready to become and perform at that level. But unfortunately we have not seen that consistency. I do think though it’s related to some of what’s happening with the rest of the team right now. I don’t think anyone is performing at all levels. Kyle started out great this year, got hurt, has now had to play himself back into condition. DeMar has shaken off the early pressures of the contract signing and he’s been more or less very good, but there’s been some days where he’s been off. We’ve had flighty performances from almost everybody. Again, it’s about finding consistency, finding the focus, getting back that attention to detail.

Question: Trade rumors swirling all around. You hear names, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon with respect to trade rumors–

Bryan Colangelo: That’s a moving screen.

Bryan Colangelo: You know when a team struggles like we have people start to focus on teams as potentially opportunistic and I would say to you that we’re not sitting back either. We were talking to a lot of teams, what we always do, and it’s a means of pursing avenues to improve your basketball team so if a deal comes along that makes sense, that is right and fits within the plan of this building process that we’ve been going through, we’ll certainly take a look at it. If it can accelerate that process and if it fits then we’ll look to address something. But nothing specific about any player right now. There’s been a lot of speculation, a lot of rumors. Again, we’re continuing to look at opportunities.

Question: What would you say your arena of greatest need would be right now?

Bryan Colangelo: Focus. Again, I’m not going to say it’s a talent issue. I will argue that point right now. I think that we’ve made strides in this building process. We’ve brought some good pieces in. I think if there is a point of weakness, it’s youth and inexperience right now and those are two things that are probably a big part of us losing the close games, not knowing how to finish those games. It was mind-numbing to be honest with you, how early in the season a couple of these games slipped through our fingers. And you get one or two of those back, we’re not talking about this as much right now, but having said that, that inexperience is probably the issue.

Question: Two really talented youngsters on your team in Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, they both have a chance to be really nice players. Talk about how blending them in and at the same time getting them experience every night…

Bryan Colangelo: Once again, we’ve been going through this process, we’ve been trying to make good long-term strategic decisions. I will fault the coaching staff for one thing: We probably won too many games last year in terms of part of this process. It’s not that we were trying to lose, we were trying to establish a culture and that was a success. But at the same time, the draft process probably played itself out differently. We love Terrence Ross, we think he’s a great talent and a number of the people I’ve talked to around the league think he’s a great talent to have. But he hasn’t had a lot of playing time early. I would have hoped he played more in the preseason to get more of that acclimation time in if you will. But that’s happening now, he’s been the recipient of some extra minutes because of some injuries. That’s a good thing that will help us in the long run. Jonas is only 20 years old and really represents the future of this basketball team. I couldn’t be more thrilled with that decision, now almost a year and a half ago.

Question: What has been the key for Ed Davis taking the next step?

Bryan Colangelo: You know, we talked a lot about him getting off to a slow start because he didn’t have the kind of development early that he needed early due to an injury and then also due to the lockout, but he had a great summer. And I think that summer of work, that body of work is helping him right now. But it really with him comes down to a focus on his effort level night in and night out. When he brings it and he’s active he’s very effective, but there’s other times where he tends to float from the game. And that’s something that happens with young players. He’s only 23-years-old, he’s part of that young core we always talk about, but he’s got a great nose for the ball, he’s got good instincts. And again once he applies himself on a nightly basis with that effort, he’s going to be a very solid player in this league.

Question: What are some of the things that will lead to focus/defence improvement?

Bryan Colangelo: It’s a shame that we missed so many opportunities early, but those were psychological blows to a young team and it takes time to recover from that. Again, building experience and building momentum in this league are things that happen rather quickly. We had a team in Phoenix that started 0-13. We did make a trade mid-season for Jason Kidd but he [Kidd] got hurt quickly, missed about two to three more weeks and at the end of the day we end up winning 40 games to go 40-42 overall and make the playoffs. I’m not saying that’s going to happen here, but momentum is a funny thing in this business and I do think that we need to work on some of the things, again I think we’ve got a lot of young players, I think we’ve got a team that likes each other, but right now they’re not playing harmoniously. They’re not playing like they like each other and I think that’s the thing that right now is holding us back.

Question: Utah serve as an opportunity to get this thing turned around?

Bryan Colangelo: Sometimes it is a game that changes things. Sometimes it’s an injury. I actually thought that the Mickael Pietrus piece being added was an opportunity to shake up the locker room a little bit and he’s going to help us. Unfortunately he’s not playing today because of an injury. I thought again, that could be the kind of thing that implements change. But you can’t script this stuff. You got to play.

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