Dr. J not in mix: McCloskey
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Jack McCloskey says Julius Erving is not in the running to be the general manager of the Raptors but there are strong rumours around the NBA that Erving remains a viable candidate for a front-office position with the club.
"I do not think so," McCloskey, the Raptors interim GM, said yesterday when asked specifically if Erving is a candidate for the GM job. And why does McCloskey think that?
"Because I talk to Richard (Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd.), I talk to Larry (Tanenbaum, MLSEL's chairman of the board), and (Erving) is not in the mix."
Is that true? Well, sometimes truth is a personal thing.
The 78-year-old McCloskey is a straight shooter, so when he speaks, we can assume he is speaking the truth as he knows it. But as has been reported numerous times, this GM search has a lot of fronts to it, and sometimes key people in the Raptors organization are not fully aware of what other people in the organization are thinking and doing.
League sources reiterated yesterday that Raptors representatives have been in contact with Erving and the two sides plan to speak again soon.
Whether the GM job in particular has been discussed is not known. And whether Erving would be interested in holding another title within the organization, be it team president, or vice-president of basketball operations, or skate-sharpener for the Maple Leafs, is not known, either.
That's a lot of unknowns. But in speaking with numerous league sources yesterday, no one was remotely as convinced as McCloskey that Erving had been eliminated completely from contention.
Peddie walked a fine line when told of McCloskey's comments.
"I have not talked to Dr. J, but given his reputation in the league and his contributions to the league, at some point I will," Peddie said. "I can say only at that time if there's a role he can play in our organization."
It all added up to another unusual day at the Air Canada Centre. Only the Raptors could turn a routine afternoon in which they worked out four low-profile, draft-eligible players -- 6-foot guard Lionel Chalmers of Xavier, 6-foot-6 guard JaQuan Hart of Eastern Michigan, 6-foot-2 guard Luis Flores of Manhattan and 6-foot-4 Canadian guard James Gillingham of Bradley -- into something dramatic and strangely awkward.
As one observer noted yesterday, the Raptors are conducting their GM search as if they're jogging backwards through the park. Yes, they may end up in the same location as they would if they were jogging forward, but they're going to take a little longer, trip over some rocks and twist some ankles.
A couple of months ago, McCloskey told reporters he could have the GM search done in an hour. Well, the Raptors now have been without a full-time GM for 1,500 hours and McCloskey admitted he's worried about how long it's taking.
"Of course I am," McCloskey said. "But Richard and Larry want to be so sure, and complete, and that's fine. I accept that. Here I am, this young guy who gets too anxious to get things done. Those older people, you know, they take a little time."
That's a pretty funny line from the affable McCloskey. The Raptors, undoubtedly, would prefer it if people regularly were laughing with them, rather than at them.
To sum up: McCloskey believes the Raptors must have a GM in place by the draft on June 24, but he says Erving - the preferred choice of Vince Carter -- is not a candidate. However, there are indications Erving, one of the most beloved players in NBA history, is in the running for a job with the Raptors, be it GM or something else.
When talking about Dr. J, there apparently never is a shortage of second opinions.