Toronto holds it’s breath

I’m going to take a different view than Jay on the Colangelo story. Regardless of whether or not he decides to take the GM position with the Raptors franchise, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment stands only to benefit from the publicity.

After the firing of Rob Babcock, the Raptors needed a solid, experienced general manager to head the club. Kudos to them for going straight to the throat of the issue and working to pry Bryan Colangelo away from the Phoenix Suns. At this junction in the team’s history, it’s critical to pull out all the stops to set the club back on the right track. The Raptors are willing to pay a premium for Colangelo’s service, and it shows the league that Toronto absolutely means business.

The media may try to spin this story any way they can while they wait for the boom to lower. The lastest development has Colangelo working the Raptors like a new girlfriend in attempts to breed some jealousy in the desert. Don’t get caught up in the hype.

Let’s understand the underlying determinant – the triple salary increase.

Is there tension between the Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and Bryan Colangelo? By all accounts, yes. Sarver is painted as a self-absorbed, vainglorious executive that is intent on leaving his fingerprints everywhere within the Sun’s franchise. Colangelo, who’s been quite accustomed to running the club the way he deems fit, has suddenly seen a decline in his control since Sarver entered the scene.

This explains why Sarver granted the Raptors permission to interview his man. Not that Sarver has any reason to break a sweat if he loses his current GM; long-time friend and basketball junkie Steve Kerr is waiting in the dugout and would easily fill that vacancy.

So if you’re Colangelo and another employer woos you away from a job where you detest your boss, with a substantial paycheck increase, what would you do?

You’d take a good look.

So here it is. The Raptors and Colangelo have met and a deal has been worked out. Sarver doesn’t want to look like a complete jackass by letting another club waltz in and steal his best employee, so he’s putting word to the media that he’s doing the very best he can to retain his general manager. Colangelo is pretty much set to sign with the Raptors, barring an absurd counter-raise by the Phoenix Suns (which he would crazy not to take if it indeed ever came through). And now everyone is playing the waiting game.

But the one intangible that is most important here is that the Raptors are getting great publicity. The word is out on the street that Toronto is ready to play some serious ball, and the league has raised it’s eyebrows. In a worst-case scenario where Sarver empties his coffers to retain Colangelo, you can bet other potential GM candidates will be vying to make their way north of the border. The Raptors have achieved more this past month than they have in the last 5 years.

Toronto is no longer a funny-sounding name of a basketball club that plays in that other country. It’s a legitimate franchise on the move that will be a serious division contender 2 years from now. And suddenly, people may want to be a part of it.