Legacy's a mixed one

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- He was once the golden boy, but yesterday general manager Glen Grunwald was given the golden handshake by the Raptors. Grunwald inherited the mess left behind by Isiah Thomas on Nov. 20, 1997. At the time, the Raptors were 1-9 and in complete disarray.

With very little to deal with, Grunwald turned a joke into a respectable franchise by making some shrewd moves.

Grunwald elevated Butch Carter to head coach, brought in veteran pieces in Kevin Willis, Charles Oakley and Antonio Davis and drafted Vince Carter.

Grunwald's finest work unfolded during the 2000-01 season when he pulled off four trades as the Raptors won a franchise-best 47 games and came within a Carter jump shot of competing for the Eastern Conference championship.

Later that summer, Grunwald spent $250 million US to lock up Carter, Davis, Jerome Williams and Alvin Williams and acquired Hakeem Olajuwon.

"Toronto just had one of the greatest signing periods in NBA history," NBA commissioner David Stern told The Toronto Sun, a quote that appears in the Raptors media guide alongside Grunwald's biography.

Ultimately, though, Grunwald's tenure in Toronto will be remembered as a failure.

A good, decent guy, Grunwald was too soft in the eyes of many NBA observers and could not handle strong-willed personalities -- namely Butch Carter, Oakley and to some extent coach Kevin O'Neill.

The team's recent draft record is brutal. The team has no legitimate point guard or post presence and Grunwald could not address the team's size deficiency after trading Davis and Jerome Williams to Chicago for Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall earlier this season.

Grunwald has had his share of strikes and spares but mainly misses:

STRIKES

Trading for Chris Childs, Keon Clark, Jerome Williams, Eric Montross -- moves fuelled a 19-8 finish to the 2000-01 season and provided the Raptors with their best team by far.

Chris Bosh -- the kid will be a star.

Vince Carter -- another move many believed was orchestrated by Butch Carter when Toronto traded Antawn Jamison to Golden State; Grunwald became too close to Vince Carter and wouldn't even take trade offers.

SPARES

Charles Oakley -- acquired toughness for Marcus Camby in a move many believed was engineered by Butch Carter.

Kevin O'Neill -- Grunwald did not want O'Neill and yet he allowed the board to select a coach whose basketball philosophy is the antithesis of Grunwald.

MISSES

Hakeem Olajuwon -- by far Grunwald's worst move. It cost the Raptors $18 million and any chance of keeping Keon Clark around. Raptors have yet to recover.

Alek Radojevic -- used 12th overall pick in 1999 draft on a complete stiff who had no business being in the NBA.

Michael Bradley -- a first-round pick who got waived; team bypassed Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, to name a few.

Lenny Wilkens -- Grunwald was too much in awe with Hall of Fame coach and allowed team to get soft.

Nate Huffman -- he cost the Raptors about $3.5 million.


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