Glen's gotta goRaptors have no choice but to replace him
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun
The case for Glen Grunwald, if there is one, is rapidly losing steam.
The general manager of the Raptors is a genuinely nice man, a good person, an original Raptor, but none of those qualities are reason enough to retain him in his position beyond this season.
None of those qualities have been able to make his basketball team work.
When the three-year contract Grunwald was supposed to receive last April never surfaced, the doubts that fans and media already had about him were clearly mirrored by Raptors ownership. Now, stuck in a lame-duck position with a team treading aimlessly, Grunwald is running out of time and hope.
The Raptors have no choice but to fire Grunwald -- either now or at the end of this season -- or at least find him another place in the great expanse that is Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
There have been too many mistakes made. The roster is as thin as Chris Bosh. The errors are wider than Oliver Miller. The money wasted is enough to drive the margin-hungry Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund into fits of economic hysteria.
Big moves haven't worked out and little moves haven't worked out and rather than hang hard-working Kevin O'Neill out to dry in his first season as coach by providing little in the way of help, Grunwald has in essence hung himself in the process.
Victimized by a weak scouting staff, mediocre drafting, an inability to be creative in recognizing talent, a lack of aggression, and being party to poor roster decisions have left the Raptors looking like a team that will be challenged to even make the playoffs in the pathetic Eastern Conference.
A far cry from the optimism of MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who thought when the season began that he had a team capable of challenging in the East. Right now, the challenge seems to be to win one more game than they lose.
A bevy of bad Raptors decisions have put the franchise in this nowhere land midway through O'Neill's first season. Take the Lamond Murray trade, for example.
In as confusing a decision as Grunwald has ever made -- and this one has never been completely explained -- the Raptors signed little-used Michael (Yogi) Stewart to a six-year $24-million US contract in 1998.
Then they made matters worse. They traded Stewart and a first-round draft pick to Cleveland for Murray and a second-round pick. It's one thing to trade an expensive bench-warmer for another. But in the deal of suspect for suspect, they also relinquished a first-round draft pick.
The pick, however, is lottery protected which further complicates matters. If the Raptors don't make the playoffs, which will certainly mean the end of Grunwald, they keep the pick for this year. If they make the playoffs, the pick probably goes to Cleveland, which means they can't improve their depth, which also means Grunwald is gone.
Either way, he can't win.
It isn't only that. When the Raptors decided to rid themselves of Charles Oakley -- the same Oakley they apparently want back now -- they traded him for a useful forward named Brian Skinner. At training camp, though, the Raptors thought more of point guard Carlos Arroyo and decided to keep him and rid themselves of Skinner. That was two seasons back. A few months later, Arroyo was released.
Skinner is now starting at power forward for the Milwaukee Bucks -- a better team than the Raptors. Playing in a much tougher conference, Arroyo is starting at point guard for the Utah Jazz -- a better team than the Raps, scoring one point a game fewer than Jalen Rose and passing about half an assist a game more.
For about 13.5 million fewer dollars, give or take a million.
You don't recover from those kind of mistakes. Letting inexpensive depth players go in the NBA world of a strangling salary cap. Just as you don't recover from believing in Chris Jefferies and Lindsay Hunter and thinking Nate Huffman and Mengke Bateer and Jerome Moiso are the answers up front and from swapping expensive parts for another losing team's expensive parts. Just as you don't recover from signing Hakeem Olajuwon or Eric Montross' foot injury or three years of the malaise that was Lenny Wilkens.
Glen Grunwald has had his chance, seven seasons, to make this work.
His time is up.