Who's got next?

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Laimbeer's name has surfaced as potentially being a major player in the wake of the Raptors' shake up. Laimbeer, who works as a TV analyst for ABC/ESPN, is considered to be the next glamour guy when it comes to coaching and managerial candidates.

Laimbeer was a member of the Bad Boys when Jack McCloskey, who yesterday replaced Glen Grunwald as interim GM, assembled a dominant Detroit team that won back-to-back NBA titles in 1989, '90.

Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, who were the best players on those Pistons teams, have since become top-flight executives. Laimbeer is said to be next in line and he definitely has connections to McCloskey, until yesterday a Raptors consultant who was brought to Toronto by Thomas.

It is not known if the Raptors have interest in Laimbeer but it is known that Laimbeer, who coached Detroit's WNBA team to a title, wants to get into the NBA in a big way.

"He's tough, ruthless, knows the game and knows talent," said a source. "He also fits (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment) image."

Laimbeer's name isn't the only name that will come up in the ensuing days and weeks.

Of the many assistant GMs in the league, the guy most likely to advance is Wayne Cooper, who has been Geoff Petrie's right-hand man in Sacramento for years and who turned down Denver's GM job a few years ago.

The Kings are considered one of the model franchises in the league and have made some very meaningful moves in the past few years with Cooper helping to oversee the changes.

Jerome Kersey is a retired player who is said to be keen on coaching and management. Kersey, who was taken in the expansion draft by Toronto, works in player development for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Depending on what direction the Raptors take, don't discount the possibility of Kevin O'Neill moving up to become GM. The rookie coach and Grunwald were never on the same page and some say Grunwald felt undermined by O'Neill, who was said to be angling for Grunwald's job.

It's a scenario, actually, that makes sense. If O'Neill moves up, he can hire Michael Curry as an assistant and appoint lead assistant coach Tony Brown as head coach.

O'Neill, Brown and Curry are very much on the same basketball page whose only mandate is to win by any means.

Remember, too, that some of the moves made by the Raptors this year were thought to be initiated by O'Neill, a great recruiter who tried making contact with Dikembe Mutombo and Charles Oakley when each was available.


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