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Colangelo Addresses Media With Uncertain Future Ahead

Related: Watch All Of Colangelo's News Conference | Satur: High Pick The Gain After Season Of Pain | Players/Coach News Conference Video | Ulmer: Triano Hopes To Keep Teaching, Learning
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Mike Ulmer - raptors.com
April 18, 2011

TORONTO -- The decision happened around November 28, after an 18-point Raptors loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Its ramifications have yet to be determined.

It was about that time that Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo and coach Jay Triano came to finally accept their fate.

The Raptors weren’t going to make the playoffs. And so Colangelo rebuffed a couple of trade offers that would have lifted the club off the mat but done nothing for its extended future. The result: a 22-60 regular season punctuated by plenty of talk about the future of both men.

Monday marked Colangelo’s season-ending press conference, an event awash in uncertainty.

Colangelo’s contract is up June 30 as MLSE’s Board of Directors deliberates on his future. The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, the majority owner of MLSE has indicated it will entertain bids to buy the enterprise. Throw in the possibility of an NBA work stoppage after the current collective bargaining agreement expires and you have an unyielding fog in which the basketball operation must operate.

Colangelo said NBA great Pat Riley gave him good advice about when to consider retooling.

“We talked about the ability to deal with losing. I asked him how he dealt with it. Pat once coached a 15-win season. He said you start the season like everybody else, you want to see what you have. Somewhere about the 25 per cent mark you are going to realize what that is.” Colangelo said he always felt he could bend his fate with a midseason trade.

“I never said we are out of the woods because you get assets when those opportunities present themselves."

Not this time. "We knew on or about November 30 that we were heading down that path. We thought it a good idea to go young and maximize our young players.”

The results were mixed. The Raptors went 14-49 the rest of the way. That left the team sitting third in the draft lottery with a 15.6 per cent of landing the first choice.

The Raptors GM had ample positives. Colangelo projected stardom for DeMar DeRozan and said he saw Ed Davis as a nightly double-double threat.

He said he explained his situation to the players.

“I said if I am back, this is what I want to see out of you. If I am back, this is where this is going. I am proud of what these young guys are doing.”

Colangelo moved to ensure some members of the organization would remain, whether he was replaced or not.

“I was concerned about how my situation affects others. Some of that was addressed internally. I was able to take care of some of the positions, coaching and upper management we felt we needed to address. Again business as usual.”

It is, of course, nothing of the kind. Colangelo, the scion of a basketball family, has been a highly presentable figure for the Raptors. But as it stands now, his legacy is in pencil.

The team raced to two playoff appearances in his tenure and defied the economic downturn on his watch. Bosh left the team for nothing save for a swanky trade exemption. Deals to surround him with complementary talents such as Hedo Turkoglu and Jermaine O'Neal did not work.

There is no doubt, however, that the Raptors have assembled a promising young team and that Colangelo’s selection of DeRozan and Davis, in retrospect, appear particularly astute. Andrea Bargnani is a 20-point-a-night player, but his defence off the ball is so atrocious that Colangelo himself concedes he might never improve that element of his game.

When will the Raptors play next? What effect will a new CBA have on the team, who will stay and who will go, on the court and above? At this point, nobody knows.