Raptors GM feeling the heat

General manager Bryan Colangelo during Media Day with the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in...

General manager Bryan Colangelo during Media Day with the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on September 27, 2010. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:42 PM ET

Bryan Colangelo is standing still and dancing fast — all at the very same time.

It isn’t easy trying to explain the wonky state of the Toronto Raptors. It isn’t easy trying to put a happy face on the start of another season. It isn’t easy trying to convince his media friends that the Raptors are heading in the right direction or any direction at all.

“A lot of people think we’re not going to do very well,” Colangelo said uncomfortably, before saying, “C’mon’ Steve, write something positive.”

I’m positive of this: The Raptors will not make the playoffs.

They didn’t get there last year with Chris Bosh. They won’t get there this year without him.

Colangelo can paddle as best he can but still he ends up going in circles. He has done some nice work coming up with first-round draft picks, including one he traded away. He has a more flexible salary cap situation. He has a trade exception. All of which should help down the road. But none of those players will be starting or coming off the bench for coach Jay Triano.

This Raptors’ season, in truth, is not about this season; it’s about next year and beyond. It’s about making a deal or three to take the Raptors back to some form of prominence — which is better than no prominence at all.

It’s just not about now. “We have a completely different financial situation going forward,” Colangelo said.

Which is nice. But I’m also positive about this: Not one night during the season will Colangelo’s financial situation lead the Raptors in scoring.

Colangelo did make a potentially great trade in the summer that never got finalized. He agreed to it. The general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats agreed. Everyone was fine. And then Michael Jordan, the owner, stepped in and made a mess of the deal.

“I’m not going to give you the details on everything, said Colangelo, who has never really explained how this turnaround trade got turned around.

“I would tell you, though, before the age of Twitter and as much as there is out there on the Internet today, things like that happen all the time. Deals are agreed to, deals are rescinded before the actual trade call (to the league) happens.

“You agree to a deal and it’s not a deal until the deal is consumated ... When I shake hands on a deal or agree to a deal verbally, it’s a deal. It would have been a phenomenal deal for us ... It would have been a great deal for us but it didn’t go through. We’re moving on.”

Colangelo thought he had traded point guard Jose Calderon to Charlotte, along with his trade exception, for Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw. He repeated the word “phenomenal” again, still troubled that the deal wasn’t made, troubled by the public view of the Raptors difficult summer.

“To see how people perceive these things, that’s taxing,” said Colangelo, whose golden boy reputation has taken a hit over time in Toronto and who isn’t quite sure how to handle those who clearly disagree with him.

He did, however, trade Hedo Turkoglu. That may have seemed impossible from afar but he did get that done. He got rid of a bad contract and a worse guy. That’s what the best general managers do: They all make mistakes. It’s how they get out of those mistakes distinguishes best from better.

Without calling him by name, he described getting out of the Turkoglu contract as taking “some expensive handcuffs off.”

He also said of Turkoglu without naming him:

“The worst thing that could have happened is us coming back to camp with the same miserable faces and having lost Chris Bosh.”

The faces the Raptors have now are young and not yet miserable.

“We’re feeling like we have a lot of pieces here that are poised to have a different and unique impact on this team.”

Different and unique. That’s the sell right now. It may be the only sell until the draft picks, trade exceptions and salary cap flexibility turn into something better. By then, Bryan Colangelo will have a new contract, a new mandate to operate the franchise long term.

“You have to be patient sometimes,” said Colangelo, talking about the trade opportunities he has turned down, but he could well be talking about Raptors fans. “Being patient in this case is something we’ve chosen to do.”

Being patient and positive may be their only hope.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve


Videos

Photos