The Last WordThe writing appears to be on the wall for Raptors GM Glen Grunwald. While it might be a bit early, our correspondent has some ideas for a successor.
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun
In April 2002, the Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies decided to get serious.
They offered their club presidency to a member of the NBA's upper royalty, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West.
Now, the Grizzlies propositioning West would be like me hitting on Beyonce.
West's silhouette is the very symbol of the NBA.
The Grizzlies, by contrast, couldn't win a game of bingo if you spotted them the first four columns.
But West was bored. At 63, he was too young to quit the game but he was open for a change. The Grizzlies offered $5 million US a year and West, an insatiable competitor, bit.
The Grizzlies, not incidentally, are enjoying the headiest moments in franchise history.
Which brings us to the Raptors, who, you might have noticed, are heading toward another disconsolate season.
Barring a cataclysmic turnaround, and by this we mean the destruction of much of the NBA via earthquake or thunderbolts from heaven, the Raptors aren't going to win a playoff round and Glen Grunwald isn't going to be tendered another contract.
Now in their seventh season under Grunwald, as pleasant a man as has ever walked this earth, the Raptors have won one playoff round.
The prospect of a contract extension, dangled by the organization last year, has been vaporized by the heat of way too many losses and questionable personnel moves.
The Raptors are clearly at a crossroads. Vince Carter has hit a plateau.
Off-season acquisitions have quickly generated into horror stories, it's all a big Nate Huffman-Jerome Moiso-Hakeem Olajuwon sort of blur.
Do the Raptors need a change?
Look at it this way.
When Mike Smith began to run the Maple Leafs in 1998, he let Mike Murphy's contract expire before bringing in Pat Quinn to coach.
I thought Murphy had done a reasonable enough job with an undistinguished roster.
"Not enough people wanted the guy I had," Smith said. "Everybody wanted the guy I got."
Grunwald came into work when Isiah Thomas cleared out his office. There was no one else to do the job so Grunwald, whose real strength was understanding the salary cap, stepped in.
That won't do anymore.
So who are the Quinn's of the basketball world at this time?
Jerry Krause, the architect of Michael Jordan's great championship seasons in Chicago, is now working as a special assistant to New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. That ought to last a week.
Doc Rivers, 42, considered one of the brightest minds in basketball, is currently at leisure. Canned by the Orlando Magic as a coach early this season, Rivers has an impeccable resume, including a 13-year NBA playing career. Rivers is spending his days as an analyst for ABC.
Rudy Tomjanovich, a two-time champion with the Houston Rockets, has been moved to the upper reaches of management while he convalesces from bladder cancer. Tomjanovich has done everything in the game, including coach the NBA dream-teamers to Olympic gold.
Hey, the Raptors might as well start at the top.
Jordan is looking for work. He probably knows a thing or two about winning and many lesser men have failed to induce positive change in Washington.