Name game growsNot content to focus on hiring a GM, the Raptors call on MacLeod, supposedly to coach
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
The Raptors have asked the Denver Nuggets for permission to talk with their associate head coach, John MacLeod.
The Raptors need both a general manager and a coach, but it's far more conceivable that they would want to talk to MacLeod -- a legendary coaching lifer -- about being on the bench rather than being in the front office.
MacLeod's contract with the Nuggets runs out on June 1 and he definitely wants to be a head coach again.
However, if the Raptors in fact are eyeing MacLeod as a potential coach, it represents a stark change in policy at this point. The club previously has maintained that the new general manager, whoever it is, will be in charge of hiring the new coach.
Meanwhile, Julius Erving and Raptors marquee player Vince Carter have been speaking again. It's still expected the Raptors will make an official call to Erving this week to discuss their vacant GM position.
"Vince is here in Orlando and we've spoken, but as of now I'm still maintaining my normal schedule," Erving, one of the most beloved players in basketball history, said yesterday. "We'll see what happens."
With the names of MacLeod and Erving circulating, it has become clear that the Raptors are expanding their horizons noticeably after zeroing in on an initial short list of five GM candidates a couple of weeks ago.
That list of five eventually was whittled down to two --Nuggets assistant general manager Jeff Weltman and Minnesota Timberwolves vice-president of player personnel Rob Babcock -- but the Raptors ultimately decided they weren't ready to hand the keys to either of those guys just yet.
Weltman in particular could re-emerge as a viable possibility as the process continues, however.
MacLeod, 66, joined the Nuggets as a consultant in 2001. When Dan Issel resigned as head coach of the Nuggets late that year, MacLeod moved to the bench as an assistant. Most recently, he has served as the associate coach under head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
"It's great," MacLeod told The Denver Post in response to a general question about other teams being interested in him as a head coach.
The Atlanta Hawks also have asked the Nuggets for permission to speak with MacLeod.
"This is the way the process works," MacLeod continued. "First it was college coaches (who were getting hired with regularity throughout the NBA). Then it was (former) players. Now they're hiring veteran coaches with proven records."
A proven record? MacLeod certainly has that.
He was a head coach in the NBA for 18 seasons, posting a 707-657 record with the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns.
MacLeod also was the head coach at the University of Notre Dame from 1991 to 1999, and at the University of Oklahoma from 1967 to 1973.
Throwing MacLeod's name into the Raptors' mix complicates things to a certain degree, since it appears to be putting the cart ahead of the horse, what with the club still searching for a GM.
However, the Raptors do have more than one person making calls around the league and sniffing out possibilities.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Richard Peddie, MLSEL chairman of the board Larry Tanenbaum, interim GM Jack McCloskey and director of player personnel Jim Kelly all are doing it, so maybe there's an overall plan that is not immediately discernable to the naked eye.
In any event, the Raptors are showing a willingness to investigate far more possibilities than they were a week ago, and that has to be considered a good thing.