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Old 10-27-2011, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Grange's take on Stefanski and other moves


If you can't beat'em, sign'em.

And so the Toronto Raptors have finally got some future considerations for Vince Carter in the form of Ed Stefanski, the former New jersey Nets executive who swindled then Raptors general manager Rob Babcock in that franchise-defining deal that went down nearly seven years ago.

Stefanski was announced formally Wednesday night as the club's executive vice-president of basketball operations, answering to president and general manager Bryan Colangelo.

Stealing Carter for a couple of guys named Williams and Alonzo Mourning's unwillingness to play in Canada may be Stefanski's highwater mark as an NBA executive.

What he'll add to the Raptors won't be known for a while.

But what he represents is another example of how Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is at the very least willing to pay some expensive lip service when it comes to building more competitive teams.

The NBA lockout is on and has been looming for years. Whether or not there is a season played this year the Raptors, coming off a 22-60 clunker, won't be swimming in new season-ticket subscribers.

If there was ever a time for a team to pull in its horns financially it would now.

Moreover MLSE - which owns the Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the ACC and other baubles - is for sale at present and has been for about seven months, officially, and much longer unofficially.

Companies that are for sale don't typically make investments that have little obvious bottom-line advantages. Businesses that are locking out their employees and not generating any revenue aren't usually looking to hire people.

And yet the Raptors have been in acquisition mode lately. Since the end of last season they've hired Dwane Casey, perhaps the hottest head coaching prospect on the market as the lead assistant on the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

And while Casey has literally had nothing to do since July 1st - team staff can't contact players - that didn't stop the Raptors from hiring a pair of assistants and retaining four more whose deals had expired. Former coach Jay Triano is still getting paid as is high-priced assistant P.J. Carlesimo.

These aren't huge expenses, but they do signal a franchise that isn't looking to pinch pennies when it comes to personnel.

In another move that was less high profile but arguably more significant, the Raptors hired Alex McKechnie in a new position as director of sports science to oversee all the care and feeding of their high-priced talent earlier in the summer.

McKechnie worked with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been credited by the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash and more recently Owen Hargreaves of Manchester City for reviving/preserving their careers.

But with a lockout looming, the Lakers - despite having just signed a 20-year local TV deal worth a reported $3 billion - let McKechnie go along with a wide swath of front office staff in a cost-saving measure in concert with the work stoppage.

"You think of the Lakers and you think they are a great organization," former Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester said. "But if you work inside the organization, it's only a perception of being a great organization. It's probably not a great organization, because great organizations don't treat their personnel like they've done."

In contrast, the Raptors used the lockout to their competitive and karmic advantage.
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