Raps go with experience

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

MIAMI -- Richard Peddie batted 1.000 in his search for a general manager and president for the Raptors.

The Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president and his crew recruited only one man -- Phoenix Suns president and general manager Bryan Colangelo -- and that man officially will say yes to the Raptors today.

The Raptors will hold a news conference this afternoon at the Air Canada Centre to unveil the 2004-05 NBA executive of the year as their president and general manager, the first time the franchise has hired a GM with previous experience in the same job. Colangelo, reportedly, will receive a four- or five-year deal worth up to $3.5 million US annually.

"I said we were going to go out and get the most proven, experienced GM we could and I think we have," Peddie said when asked about the rare move of bringing in a general manager from another team in mid-season.

"Typically, people you'd be interested in would be tied up through the end of the season. When we were allowed to talk to Bryan in February, that was unexpected. When your top person gets available months earlier than imagined, you jump at that chance."

TOP RECORD

Colangelo, who became the Suns GM in 1995 and led the team to the top overall record in the NBA last season, declined comment yesterday when reached by the Toronto Sun.

Peddie said Colangelo will have "complete autonomy" on the basketball side, just like previous GMs. However, Colangelo still will report to Peddie.

The Suns confirmed Colangelo's resignation in a statement yesterday. Incoming owner Robert Sarver, who reportedly had a frosty relationship with Colangelo that helped lead to his departure, said, "Dating back to last summer, I assured Bryan of my intention to extend his contract. I'm disappointed with Bryan's decision but I wish him well."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell spoke with Colangelo on the phone yesterday. Mitchell has one year left on his contract.

"We had a great conversation," Mitchell said. "I'm excited. His resume and what he has done in Phoenix speaks for itself. I'm looking forward to working with him. I'm looking forward to him bringing the same magic he had in Phoenix ... to Toronto."

Raptors star Chris Bosh, who has the option of signing a long-term contract with the team this summer, said he hopes to sit down with Colangelo in the near future. Bosh has a good relationship with Mitchell and many feel he will express his support for the coach.

"He's a successful GM, he has a good rep," Bosh said. "You can pretty much see his rep right now. It's real good to know, just to have somebody to come in who has pretty good credentials already."

Peddie said interim GM Wayne Embry, a close friend of the Colangelo family, helped with the search and will remain with the team. It is believed he will return to his adviser to the president's role.

Peddie agreed that this search is similar to the one that brought coach Lenny Wilkens to town in 2000, one in which the Hall of Famer was on one list and everybody else was on another. Wilkens lasted three seasons and won just one playoff series.

"This one will be a lot better," Peddie said.

We'll find out starting today.

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COLANGELO'S T0-DO LIST

Five pressing issues which Bryan Colangelo is facing:

1. Get Chris Bosh's signature on a long-term contract, hopefully this summer.

2 Re-sign point guard Mike James without overpaying him.

3. Address the future of coach Sam Mitchell. His contract expires after next season, making him a potential lame-duck in 2006-07 if he doesn't receive an extension.

4. The need for a legitimate starting centre. The Raptors have cap room to make a run at a guy like free-agent-to-be Joel Przybilla of the Portland Trail Blazers.

5. Do not draft another Rafael Araujo. Colangelo's first pick with the Raptors could be right around where Rob Babcock was on his first try -- eighth overall.


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