The Toronto Raptors haven’t reached a decision on the future of Bryan Colangelo yet, but there is growing speculation that the club’s president and general manager may make the first move.
Colangelo has been waiting for nearly a week to learn if he was convincing enough in his presentation to MLSE ownership and incoming president and CEO Tim Leiweke to at least have the option year on his contract picked up.
It was expected there would be some resolution in time for the company’s meeting of the board, scheduled for Wednesday but according to sources the board — who have ceded the decision on Raptors personnel to Leiweke — is prepared to wait a little longer to make a decision about Colangelo’s current deal or offering him an extension.
That timeline may not suit Colangelo and there is some suggestion that he may take action preemptively and offer his resignation in the coming days.
Reached for comment in Los Angeles Sunday, Leiweke said, “I’m not going to let the board dictate the timing on this and this is no disrespect to the board. That’s not the right way to do this. I think it’s a matter of whatever time that takes is what it takes, we’re not going to knee jerk. I’m not going to let the board overrule the time and to their credit, they haven’t asked it. They’ve been very patient.
“It wouldn’t shock me that if at the end of the day, if I’m not going to give him a vote of confidence, he moves on,” said Leiweke.
In last Tuesday’s meeting Colangelo faced tough some questioning from Leiweke and MLSE ownership who were seeking an explanation for the franchise’s five straight years outside the playoffs in a meeting that ran three hours.
According to sources, Colangelo may be growing frustrated waiting for a decision to be me made, with the longer it drags on serving as evidence to him that he is not Leiweke’s first choice to run the basketball operations going forward.
Colangelo didn’t immediately return messages on Sunday.
It’s believed that Leiweke’s been hesitating on making the call on Colangelo because there are two paths being pursued in parallel.
On one hand, Leiweke — who was the president and CEO of AEG and part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and also previously served as the president of the Denver Nuggets before agreeing to take on the top job at MLSE — is still trying to determine if Colangelo is the right person for the job long term or if picking up his option might make the most sense for the franchise in the short term.
On the other, sources close to the MLSE familiar with Leiweke’s thinking say he’s also tapping into his NBA contacts to determine if there might be a preferred choice to give the franchise over to for a complete makeover.
One name that can be crossed off any lists, sources say, is Phil Jackson. The 11-time NBA champion head coach won six titles working with Leiweke in Los Angeles and the two are friends, but the likelihood of Jackson relocating to Toronto and taking on a full-time role as a club executive are considered remote at this point.
It’s also unlikely that Leiweke would consider an interim management team headed by Colangelo’s right-hand man Ed Stefanski, for example.
Caught in between is Colangelo, a two-time NBA executive of the year who came to the Raptors in March of 2006 as one of the most highly-regarded executives in the league after a long and successful run with the Phoenix Suns. Two straight playoff appearances and the Raptors only division title followed but the Raptors missed the playoffs the last two seasons that Chris Bosh was uniform and have been in a rebuilding phase for the last three years.
Colangelo has predicted the team is positioned to make the playoffs in 2013-14 with a nucleus of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valancuinas.
The question is if he’s going to get a chance to be proven right, or even if he’s prepared to wait to find out if he’s going to get the chance.