Raptors staring at Suns GM

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

DALLAS -- A formal announcement is not imminent, but Phoenix Suns president/general manager Bryan Colangelo has become the frontrunner for the Raptors' vacant GM post.

With Colangelo's contract extension talks at a standstill with Robert Sarver, the incoming Suns owner granted the Raptors permission to talk with the NBA's reigning executive of the year. The Toronto braintrust has done so on two occasions -- at the all-star festivities in Houston this past weekend and last Tuesday in Toronto.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., president Richard Peddie, who is scheduled to watch the Raptors play road games in Dallas on Saturday and Miami on Monday on a trip that was arranged months ago, wasn't commenting on the matter yesterday. Attempts to reach MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum were unsuccessful. Both men were in Houston for the all-star weekend.

Sarver, whose three-year deal with Colangelo expires after the 2006-07 season, released a statement yesterday, saying: "I have had discussions with Bryan regarding an extension on his contract and those discussions are ongoing. My hope remains he will stay in Phoenix."

Sarver also said that when he signed his original deal with Colangelo, he agreed not to prevent the GM from exploring other opportunities.

While there is speculation the Raptors and Colangelo haven't come to an agreement on salary terms, Toronto is believed to be offering in the neighbourhood of $3 million US per season on a long-term deal that also likely would see him be named president of basketball operations. Colangelo currently makes around $1 million with the Suns.

If the Raptors can convince Colangelo to jump on board, interim GM Wayne Embry likely would return to his role as senior adviser to the president. Embry did not attend the meetings with Colangelo and wouldn't say whether he recommended him for the job, but he does have close ties with Colangelo's father, Jerry, the Suns CEO.

"We (Embry and Jerry Colangelo) go back a long way," said Embry, who is not officially involved in the selection process, but has the ear of Peddie.

Sarver, reportedly, wants his own regime in place, explaining why he has left the door open for Bryan Colangelo to leave. Colangelo, who signed Canadian point guard Steve Nash to a six-year deal in 2004 and then watched him win the MVP award last season, is credited with making some strong deals this past summer that have kept the Suns in the thick of things in the West, despite an injury to star Amare Stoudemire, a Colangelo draft pick.

Embry praised Bryan Colangelo as a "terrific person and good basketball man."

Raptors star Chris Bosh also seems to be a fan.

"Anybody that has a pretty good reputation like Colangelo, anytime you're speaking about signing a guy like that, it sparks my interest," he said. "You can see what his product is ... and he has done a pretty good job there."

Many feel a deal to bring Colangelo to Toronto could be finalized as soon as next week.


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