Pressure is on Raptors GM
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun
The Raptors have complete, absolute, certain, cross-your-fingers faith that Glen Grunwald is the right man to repair this ailing basketball franchise.
That's what they will tell you.
They'll tell you they love this guy. They'll tell you he is a terrific person.
But about that new contract -- well -- what they're saying between the lines is "You know, I don't think so."
At least not now.
The very fact Grunwald enters the final year on his contract and that the long-term deal that was talked about publicly last March never existed presents a contradictory picture of just where things stand with the Raptors.
If they truly believe he's the best man for the job, give him a long-term deal and let him do it.
If they don't believe it, say goodbye to him.
But instead, Grunwald stands on the balance beam two weeks before the opening of training camp, not certain if this is a new beginning for the Raptors or the end for him. And if you know anything about Grunwald's knees, a balance beam is the last place he would like to find himself.
The strange truth is, he's about the only Raptor with his backside on the line as this season begins.
Vince Carter and Antonio Davis are signed for most of the rest of the century, give or take a year. Same with Jerome Williams and Alvin Williams. Even the new coach, Kevin O'Neill, has two years to show his stuff.
If O'Neill fails in Year One, he doesn't necessarily take the bullet, but Grunwald certainly does.
And there is word around town that he is preparing for the eventuality of his departure, just in case this season doesn't go as planned. There has been talk Grunwald would stay in Toronto and look for work in the legal profession -- he has practised law in the past -- should the Raptors not return to the land of the breathing.
As in winning occasionally.
There are different ways to interpret the lame-duck status of Grunwald and one of them is to wonder about the power structure of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. Back in March, incoming chairman Larry Tanenbaum gave Grunwald a vote of confidence and said the Raptors would be comfortable extending his contract.
But either Tanenbaum changed his mind, misspoke at the time or was overruled by either the board or CEO and president Richard Peddie. There are those who will tell you that Tanenbaum was ready to give Grunwald a new deal and Peddie wanted no part of it.
And there are those just as close to the scene who will say there was never any discussion about a new contract for the general manager, who is off in China in search of a 12th man or the next Yao Ming, whichever comes first.
Tanenbaum said yesterday he fiercely believes in the foundation the Raptors have put together and may have overstated his case slightly when he called this the "core of a championship team."
He was, before you get carried away, talking about the Eastern Conference only.
"I'm concentrating on the East first," he said. "I'm excited about these guys and how we stack up against our (Eastern) competition ... I have no doubt we are going to be (a championship) team."
He has no doubt. Only he's not about to sign Grunwald to back his point.
"Glen is basically the CEO of our basketball operation and he's no different than a lot of CEOs," Tanenbaum said. "His assets have to perform. That's business and sports is really no different.
"I've always believed in Glen Grunwald. And I believe he's the guy who will take us to the top of the heap."
Waiting at "the top of the heap" is a new contract for Grunwald.
And failing that, a pink slip.