Still slugging

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

The only mature approach for Glen Grunwald to take is to operate as if it's business as usual. Despite the intense speculation about massive changes on the horizon for the Raptors, as of this moment Grunwald remains the club's general manager.

The NBA draft is coming up, and the investigations that need to be done are more complex than ever, with so many intriguing high schoolers in the mix. How can a team like the Raptors not consider drafting a high schooler, if a high schooler is the best player available when they pick?

This is no time for a GM to be anything but 100% focused. Scouting trips have to be arranged, and occasionally taken personally. Draft-eligible players have to be invited to Toronto for workouts.

There will be an expansion draft this spring, too, to stock the league's 30th team, the Charlotte Bobcats. The Raptors must decide who to protect and who to expose.

The off-season doesn't have a lot of "off" in it. Preparations and evaluations have to be made on countless fronts.

"Yes, we're well into all that stuff," Grunwald said yesterday.

And regardless of whether you think Grunwald should continue in his role as general manager of the Raptors, realistically he has no choice but to make plans for the future, as muddy as that future might be. So can we assume Grunwald wants to keep his job? The answer is not as automatic as you might think.

Grunwald has been the GM since 1997. By average standards, he's well compensated financially for his efforts. But even though it comes with the job, it can't be pleasant having every one of his decisions debated and rehashed in the media virtually every day. It would wear on anyone.

"It has its pluses and minuses," Grunwald said. "But overall, it's a great job."

On the whole, Grunwald's team has done far less than a great job this season. Not that the Raptors have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just yet, but the best thing they can hope for is an immediate and unprecedented disqualification of about three Eastern Conference teams. Say, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia for, uh, conduct detrimental to the league.

But that isn't likely to happen, leaving Grunwald as one of many people employed by the Raptors whose job security is in question. It has become widely accepted that Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill is going to be fired, and rumours were circulating yesterday that he might be dismissed as early as today, although the day after the season ends would be more appropriate. Either way, Grunwald is a more tricky proposition.

Asked to evaluate his own performance, Grunwald replied, "You know, that's really not for me to say."

While many fans would like to see Grunwald fired -- as a symbolic move if nothing else -- Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd., is reluctant to axe him outright, given his years of loyal, low-key service.

That said, some front-office title-shuffling may be in the offing, with the goal of bolstering the hoops savvy in the organization's depth chart.

If the Raptors wind up with a new-look front office, the betting is Grunwald will have some role to play. How big or small that role is remains to be seen.

Would Grunwald give himself a new contract as general manager of the Raptors?

"Me?" he asked with a laugh as he contemplated the ultimate conflict of interest.

Now, if most of us were asked that question, we not only would answer in the affirmative, we would give ourselves a big fat raise, a company car and free daily massages, too. But Grunwald, as usual, was very careful with his words.

"Again," he said, "it's just not my call."

It isn't yet known if Grunwald will be making any calls in the future. All he can do is assume he's going to be making them and keep showing up for work every day.


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