TORONTO - Despite an earlier reported stumble, Bryan Colangelo has added Ed Stefanski to his front office staff.
Stefanski will officially be named Toronto’s executive vice-president on Thursday, sources told the Sun.
Stefanski was let go by the new owners of the Philadelphia 76ers last week.
He served as general manager under Rod Thorn in Philadelphia as well as previously in New Jersey.
Colangelo had been looking to boost his basketball brain-trust ever since he lost up-and-comer Masai Ujiri to the Denver Nuggets last August.
As expected, this search was never about finding a general manager who would bump Colangelo upstairs. Colangelo will still have final say on all basketball matters, but Stefanski will provide another experienced voice.
Stefanski has been lauded for assisting Thorn in stealing Vince Carter from the Raptors, drafting Kenyon Martin and Jrue Holiday, and trading for Richard Jefferson.
He previously played in the NCAA tournament for the University of Pennsylvania, spent 20 years as an NCAA colour analyst and was New Jersey’s director of scouting before becoming general manager.
Like Colangelo, Stefanski has proven himself to be a savvy drafter, but has similarly been knocked for overspending on free agents.
After reporting Stefanski to Toronto as a done deal early in October, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports said a week later that the talks had “hit a snag” and been “derailed.”
However, both sides were able to get back on track.
Former New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower was the runner-up.
His agent, Jeff Kauffman, lauded Colangelo for his handling of the search process.
“Great job by Tort. in narrowing to 2 best guys Stefanski and Bower,” tweeted Kauffman.
“Bryan C did outstanding job in interview process IMO. Bower is client and process very well conducted. Some clubs could learn from it.”
More hirings are expected, along with the reshuffling of titles. Former assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini now senior vice-president of basketball operations and Day One employee Jim Kelly, currently the senior director of scouting, only received one-year extensions this summer.
The Maple Leafs have added significantly to Brian Burke’s front office in recent years and the Raptors appear to be moving in the same direction.
If player payroll costs go down as a result of a new collective bargaining agreement — as was the case following the NHL lockout — ownership could use some of the excess cash to pay for an enhanced management staff.