Raps GM: Sam safe 'at this time'

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo gave his head coach, Sam Mitchell, a resounding endorsement yesterday.

Sort of.

Rumours have been blowing hard the past few weeks that if the Raptors lost in the first round of playoffs to the Orlando Magic -- which they did -- Mitchell would get fired in the off-season.

"I have absolutely no intention of making a coaching change at this time," Colangelo said yesterday.

Take note of those last three words.

"Nobody should be looking at Sam Mitchell and saying it's entirely his fault, or he's facing a firing or a buyout," Colangelo said.

"All of that is absolute speculation and it's also storytelling, more than anything," he added.

The rumours are that Colangelo may fire Mitchell, even though last season's NBA coach-of-the-year has two more years, at about $4 million per, left on his contract. It's thought that the Phoenix Suns -- who were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs last night -- will get rid of Mike D'Antoni, and that Colangelo, D'Antoni's former boss in Phoenix, would go after him. But Colangelo said rumours of hiring or firing two coaches that were still active in the playoffs as of two days ago is "absolutely ludicrous."

The Raptors finished the season at .500 (41-41) after going 47-35 the season before. In that season, the Raptors took the New Jersey Nets to six. This year, the Magic dispatched the Raptors in five. Obviously that's a step back and fingers have been pointing in all directions, including at Mitchell. For his part, the coach took the firing rumours in stride yesterday.

"And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his behind every time he hopped," he said.

Further to that, Mitchell said that he doesn't pay attention to the rumours, nor would he dump on Colangelo for not giving him a 100% guarantee that he'll be coaching the Raptors at the start of next season.

"Do any of us have the right to expect anything other than to be treated fairly?" Mitchell said. "If Pat Riley called tomorrow and said 'I want to coach', would Bryan Colangelo listen? I would hope so. I would think he would. It's Pat Riley," Mitchell added.

"I say this with a straight face. As a coach, all you can do is do your job to the best of your ability. I have no complaints, other than I wish we were still playing," he said.

There also have been rumours the New York Knicks are interested in D'Antoni and Mitchell.


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