Raptors keen on retaining Colangelo

The Toronto Raptors see Bryan Colangelo as their general manager now and into the future.

Bryan Colangelo's future as Toronto Raptors general manager is beginning to sound pretty secure well beyond the one year he has remaining on his contract.

Richard Peddie, the president and CEO of team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said Wednesday that while an extension for his embattled executive isn't a priority right now, it is something "we'll definitely get to."

"We will definitely have a discussion," he continued prior to the grand opening ceremony for his company's Maple Leaf Square property venture.

"He wants to stay, we want him to stay, we'll work something out."

With his current deal soon to expire, Colangelo's future has been a hot talking point for fans after a disappointing 40-42 record last season left the Raptors out of the playoffs, and all-star forward Chris Bosh bailed on the club to join the Miami Heat.

Colangelo was unable to get a big name to replace him, but did manage to trade disgruntled forward Hedo Turkoglu for guard Leandro Barbosa, retain forward Amir Johnson and sign forward Linas Kleiza.

The Raptors are now looking to rebuild around a younger core, and Colangelo is eager to see it through.

"I'm committed to the organization, committed to the city," he said from Vancouver, where the Raptors have been conducting training camp. "It was a big decision on my part to come four years ago now and we've had some success along the way, maybe a little bit too much too early, and more recently have struggled a bit, probably accentuated a bit by the loss of Chris this summer.

"Having said that ... I know that good things are on the horizon for the basketball team and I just hope good things do work out in that regard."

Peddie made it sound like hope won't be a very necessary component in getting a new deal done, after earlier suggestions of a wait-and-see approach from the club.

"We've both agreed we've got other things to do [right now]," he said. "We're pretty busy on the business side and Bryan's starting his season. We'll definitely get to it. It's not been a priority."

Peddie said an extension is necessary to allow Colangelo to build up his management team, which took a hit recently when assistant GM Masai Ujiri left to become executive vice-president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets.

That led to Marc Eversley's promotion to assistant GM and Alvin Williams' move to director of player development after serving on the coaching staff, but Peddie feels Colangelo can't really plug other gaps until he's extended himself.

"He has to kind of figure out what he has in a management team," said Peddie. "You can't build a management team if you're not there yourself. So yeah, we want to get to it, but it's not pressing today."

Colangelo acknowledged that might be a necessary step.

"It's always good to have great people around you and a succession plan in place should something happen, whether I'm dismissed or I get hit by a bus -- let's hope neither happens," Colangelo said with a chuckle. "Sometimes getting my situation in order might make more sense before dealing with that."

The Raptors won their first, and only Atlantic Division title in Colangelo's first full season as GM in 2006-07, but have been on the decline since. They have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and with Bosh gone, the franchise is now pushing its youth to the fore.

Italian centre Andrea Bargnani, drafted first overall by Colangelo in 2006, looks to be the team's primary offensive option now. Kleiza is 25, guard Sonny Weems is 24, Johnson and forward Julian Wright are 23, while swingman DeMar DeRozan is 21, and how they fare will go a long way in determining the team's future.

How long of a process will it be?

"I think you're rebuilding right now with the youth and you know with basketball, you get a really good draft choice and your rebuilding is a lot easier," said Peddie. "We've got to win, that's pretty clear. It's whatever journey gets us there."

And it looks like Colangelo will be the one guiding it.