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Bryan Colangelo Leaves Suns to Take President, GM Post with the Raptors

ebruary 28, 2006

MIAMI (AP) -- Bryan Colangelo resigned Monday as general manager of the Phoenix Suns to become president and GM of the Toronto Raptors.

Colangelo succeeds Rob Babcock, who was fired Jan. 26 by the Raptors. Colangelo was the NBA's 2005 executive of the year after the Suns' retooled roster won a league-high 62 games.

``Bryan has decided that his preference is to leave the Suns, and under those circumstances, we saw no other option other than to accept his decision,'' Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said in a statement.
Bryan Colangelo was responsible for bringing Steve Nash to the Suns. (NBAE/Getty Images)size>


Richard Peddie, president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said a news conference was scheduled Tuesday to announce the hiring of Colangelo. The Raptors were in Miami for a game Monday night.

``We're very close to finishing the deal,'' Peddie said. ``Let's get back to Toronto safely and get some signatures on paper, and I'll be a happy guy.''

Colangelo, 40, could not be reached for comment.

He spent 17 years with the Suns, the past 11 as general manager _ a job first held by his father, Jerry Colangelo, when the team was founded in 1968. Jerry Colangelo sold the club to a group led by Sarver but will remain chairman and CEO until the sale is complete after the 2006-07 season.

Bryan Colangelo's relationship with Sarver soured amid reports that the two men had been unable to come to terms on an extension of Colangelo's contract. The Suns permitted the Raptors to begin discussions with Colangelo more than a week ago, Peddie said.

Sarver said Colangelo had to go through an ``adjustment'' in dealing with a new boss who wasn't his father.

``I wouldn't say it was difficult. We still get along,'' Sarver told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday night, adding that Colangelo invited him to the upcoming Suns-Raptors game in Toronto.

But the decision caught Sarver a little off guard.

``I would say it did surprise me,'' Sarver said. ``When I heard Toronto was interested in talking to him, that didn't surprise me. The fact that he wanted to pursue it surprised me.''

He wasn't the only one.

``When we were allowed to talk to Bryan in February, that was unexpected,'' Peddie said. ``When your top person gets available months earlier than you imagined, you jump at the chance. ...

``I said we were going to go out and get the most proven, experienced GM that we could, and I think we have.''

Toronto has been competitive since a 1-15 start but is still fourth in the Atlantic Division. The Phoenix team built by Colangelo leads the Pacific Division and has the NBA's fourth-best record.

``He's a successful GM,'' Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. ``He has a good rep. You can see his work right now. It's real good to know, just to have somebody come in who has pretty good credentials.''

In Toronto, Colangelo joins Wayne Embry, a longtime friend of the Colangelo family and Peddie's senior basketball adviser.

Embry was interim general manager but not interested in the job long term. He'll remain with the organization, Peddie said.

``We're counting on having Wayne stick around,'' Peddie said. ``They've hit it off already.''

Colangelo's contract with the Suns was reportedly worth $1 million US per year and expired at the end of next season. He also has an ownership stake in the Suns that he'll have to sell.

The Raptors reportedly offered Colangelo a multiyear deal worth $3 million per year. The job gives him more power over basketball operations than he has with the Suns, and he'll report to Peddie.

``He has complete autonomy for the basketball organization,'' Peddie said. ``He'll be president of business and basketball.''

Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said he talked Tuesday with Colangelo.

``Bryan and I are going to talk a lot more in the weeks to come,'' Mitchell said. ``He obviously has proven he understands what it takes to put together a team.''

Sarver said he was disappointed to see Colangelo leave the Suns.

``At the time we bought the team (June 30, 2004), we agreed to a new three-year contract with Bryan,'' said Sarver. ``Dating back to last summer, I assured Bryan of my intention to extend his contract. I'm disappointed with Bryan's decision but I wish him well.''

Sarver said he would proceed methodically in finding a replacement, and he did not plan to name an interim general manager.