Follow Corey D’Souza on Twitter @Coreydsouza
TORONTO,ON–At the end of this season, Bryan Colangelo’s contract with the Raptors will be up. Colangelo initially signed with the Raptors in the winter of 2006, and at the time, it looked like a great time to be a Raptors fan. Simply put, Colangelo looked impressive back then. He was tall, imposing, well dressed and had a knack of pulling off creative trades that helped the team. Even lady luck turned her beautiful head towards the Raptors and Bryan Colangelo in the form of the number one overall pick in 2006. This came merely 3 months after Colangelo became President and General Manager of the Raptors.
But there’s a funny thing about time. Five years have passed, and not one Raptors’ fan still gets that giddy, hopeful feeling when they think about ol’ BC. We forget about his first season in charge, when the Raptors won the Atlantic Division. The NBA named Colangelo Executive of the Year in 2007, following the Raptor’s first round elimination at the hands of the New Jersey Nets. But still, it was such an impressive turnaround; from 27 wins in 2005-06 to 47 wins and a playoff berth in 2006-07.
Now, we tend to focus on the fact that the Raptors have not made the playoffs (counting this season) three years in a row. We also focus on the fact that former franchise player, Chris Bosh, has left for greener pastures. Finally, we focus on the fact that Bryan Colangelo has never been able to replicate the success of his first season with the Raptors.
And we focus on these things for good reason…where is the team now? The Raptors are the fifth worst team in the NBA. Toronto does not have a superstar, or any star at all. Andrea Bargnani, although still developing, has not reached the heights Colangelo implied he could, the Raps are young, inexperienced and still don’t play defense. Most logical fans would call for Colangelo’s head at this point, and many are.
But it is in this opinion, that we give BC one final chance to prove that he is the chosen one to lead this ever futile Raptors team to glory. These are the reasons why:
1. When Colangelo joined the Raptors in 2006, he inherited a team that had been ruined by the choices of Ex-GM Rob Babcock. The team possessed players with no value like Rafael Arujao, Eric Williams, and the soon to be retired Antonio Davis. Mike James was the starting point guard, but he did not want to stay in Toronto and Jalen Rose had a huge contract that was holding down the Raptors financially. Colangelo became a miracle worker, and shed all of these players, turning that disaster of a team into Atlantic Division champions. Colangelo is a master of negotiations, and has proven that he can turn a team around. He has the track record, but yet Raptors fans are still wary.
2. Colangelo was forced to build a team around Chris Bosh. Bosh was the face of the franchise, and Colangelo did everything he could to make it work. He acquired T.J Ford, drafted Andrea Bargnani, traded for Jermaine O’Neal and signed Hedo Turkoglu. Colangelo literally tried everything to form a suitable core around Bosh. But I think we all know by now that Chris Bosh can’t do it by himself. That is not Bryan Colangelo’s fault. Some will say Colangelo should have traded Bosh earlier, but this might not have been entirely up to Colangelo. With sponsorship money tied in with the Raptors and Bosh, and the Raptors holding playoffs spots at midseason, the MLSE might have had a hand in keeping Bosh in Toronto.
3. This current edition of the Raptors is BRYAN COLANGELO’S TEAM. Every player on this team, with the exception of Jose Calderon, has been drafted or acquired by Colangelo. There are no excuses Colangelo can make; he is directly responsible for the Raptors achievements and failures. You have to believe that Colangelo’s pride and reputation is on the line every time the Raptors play. This is his baby, and logic dictates that he will make the best decisions for this team, whether it be for the sake of the Raptors, or his own hubris.
4. Who else is out there than can “rescue” the Raptors? Colangelo was the Messiah, come to rescue the Raptors from the clutches of Rob Babcock. Who do you see now coming to the aid of Canada’s only team?
Whether you want to believe it or not, Colangelo has formed a young, (second youngest in the NBA,) talented group of players who want to play in Toronto. It might be a while before this group can turn into playoff contenders, and Raptors’ fans might become more impatient and critical of the team, but this is Colangelo’s vision for the Raptors, post Chris Bosh era.
I say, lets see what this vision transforms into. Sign Colangelo to a two-year contract. He does not deserve a multi-year contract, nor does he have the right to demand it based on what he has done. But an extra two years will lend credence to this “vision.” Two years will show us how youngsters like Demar Derozan, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, and Andrea Bargnani turn out. Two years will also give us a sample of what the Raptors top-5 draft pick this year will look like.
What do you think of the Bryan Colangelo situation? Should we hold him accountable and keep him on a leash with a two-year contract? Should we re-sign him to a multi-year contract this off-season? Or should we cut our losses and just let him go? Let NPH know what you think.
Photo Courtesy: Raptors.com, CBC.ca