The end of the month marks the four-year anniversary of Bryan Colangelo’s arrival in Toronto when he escaped the ownership debacle in the Arizona desert.
On Feb. 28, 2006, Colangelo was given the keys to the Raptors franchise with no strings attached, no interference from ownership and no excuses for producing an on-court product that would be entertaining and successful.
Under Colangelo’s watch, the Raptors have made two post-season appearances, but have no series wins.
He has managed the delicate balancing act of appeasing his owners and enticing players very astutely and wisely.
Colangelo has done a good job, but his job remains very much incomplete.
It is interesting to note that whispers of Colangelo leaving Toronto continue to percolate.
Normally, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
The New Jersey Nets are a mess and they are on pace to become the losingest team in the NBA’s modern era.
There’s hope on the horizon with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov soon to be approved by the NBA’s board as New Jersey’s new owner.
Rod Thorn serves as president, but his deal expires this summer.
Colangelo doesn’t have a contract beyond this season.
Colangelo is often viewed as one of basketball’s big fish who would prefer to swim in a large pond.
With talk of the Nets moving shop to Brooklyn, more than one person has begun to connect the dots, real or imagined, and link Colangelo with the Nets.
It’s no different than when players get bandied about in rumour.
People begin to grasp at straws and make a leap that often results in nothing.
A scenario was floated that connected Colangelo with the New York Knicks, where Donnie Walsh calls the shots.
Like Thorn, Walsh is an experienced and well-respected executive whose time may be about to expire, by choice and by circumstance.
The Knicks are coached by Mike D’Antoni, who was given his first NBA coaching gig in Phoenix by Colangelo.
The Knicks are loaded with cap space and no executive is as adept at wooing free agents like Colangelo.
The problem with the speculation is that Colangelo isn’t going anywhere, at least not in the immediate future.
Maybe one day he’s destined to assume a top position with the league or oversee a European-based division of the NBA.
In time, Colangelo will grow tired of running a basketball team in a market dominated by hockey.
As long as the Raptors are relevant, in other words are winning, there’s no reason for Colangelo wanting to get out.
If the team is able to go on a significant post-season run, Colangelo will be validated, if he isn’t already.
He’s made mistakes in giving Sam Mitchell an extension, even though it was clear the two were never on the same philosophical basketball page.
Colangelo was vilified when he selected Andrea Bargnani first overall, but Bargnani now is proving to be the perfect big-man complement to Chris Bosh.
He convinced Hedo Turkoglu to sign.
There’s more work that awaits, but Colangelo always is figuring out ways to make the Raptors better.
No one should ever doubt his drive to be the best and his unwavering desire to position his team to be the best.
But timing is everything.
Perhaps there’s some agenda at play in helping explain why Colangelo has been linked with the Nets.
Every league and club executive will be headed to Dallas for this weekend’s all-star festivities.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has the option to extend Colangelo, a no-brainer in the wake of Colangelo’s makeover of the team and the Raptors’ continued emergence in the East.
It’s just a matter of time before an extension gets announced. How long and under what terms at what amount remain unclear.
Recently, the organization had to come to grips with the tragic death of Brian Burke’s son, Brendan, who was laid to rest on Tuesday.
Before the weekend car tragedy that claimed Brendan Burke, there was a sense that something was afoot vis-a-vis an extension for Colangelo.
The bottom line is that there’s no reason, other than the normal issues involving ego and money, for MLSEL to sever its relationship with Colangelo, whose image, style and productivity make him the perfect executive to run the business of basketball.
On Feb. 28, four years would have officially elapsed since Colangelo arrived on the Toronto scene.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll be a part of the sporting climate for years to come, despite what the whispers have some suggesting.