Sam in command of Raps

Sam Mitchell has 12 million reasons to smile as the Raptors made the worst-kept secret official...

Sam Mitchell has 12 million reasons to smile as the Raptors made the worst-kept secret official yesterday. (Sun Media/Michael Peake)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo became a little worried he was going to lose Sam Mitchell as the team's head coach this spring when he heard that Mitchell was selling his furniture.

"I asked if I should take that as some sort of sign (that he wanted out), but he explained to me that he's been using the same cheap stuff for the last three years (in Toronto) and if he stayed here, he was going to get some nice new stuff," the GM said.

No doubt Mitchell will be able to afford any number of new sofa now, as it was confirmed yesterday at a media conference that the Columbus, Ga., native has signed a new four-year deal (the final year of the contract is a team option) worth approximately $4 million US annually.

The key to the deal, of course, was length and money, but also the fact that Mitchell and Colangelo are on the same wavelength as the team moves forward.

"If that wasn't the case, I wouldn't be here," said Mitchell. "We talk constantly about how to best use our players and we agree on that 100%. That has never been the issue."

The head coach and GM reiterated yesterday that it is crucial for the club's young nucleus (Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford and Andrea Bargnani) to continue to improve and to develop a hunger for winning in the playoffs.

"Hopefully they understand that they're a good basketball team, and that they can win," Mitchell said. "Once you have that confidence, then you can make that leap."

What is abundantly clear is the team's need for a small forward and rebounder.

"We understand that we're not Phoenix. But there's a different way we can do things and still accomplish what we want," Mitchell said.

"Bryan and I agree wholeheartedly on what we need."

Excited about his lucrative new deal, Mitchell described Colangelo yesterday as a "man of his word" for sticking with him when the team began the season at 2-8.

He said negotiations on a new deal were "easy."

"I knew from the start that Bryan wanted me," Mitchell said.

Colangelo has been impressed with Mitchell's evolution, particularly the way he uses his assistants, and his relationship with the players.

"He treats them all equally, regardless of star status," the GM said. "Sam commands respect from the players and they always seem prepared and ready."

The two agreed the next priority is to re-sign all three assistant coaches and perhaps add a fourth.


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