Raptors shake up front office, Colangelo in reduced role

Bryan Colangelo will move into the role of president of the Toronto Raptors, building the team's brand and on other projects, but will cede final say on basketball decisions to a new general manager.

New GM will determine coach Dwane Casey's status

Toronto failed to make the playoffs the past five seasons under Bryan Colangelo. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Bryan Colangelo will move into the role of president of the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced on Tuesday.

Colangelo spent seven seasons as Raptors general manager, but the team has missed the playoffs the last five years.

The expiration of Colangelo's contract as GM coincided with the arrival of new MLSE president Tim Leiweke.

Leiweke admitted on a conference call that Colangelo is "probably ticked off at me," and that the new structure is unique and will require some adjustment on his part.

"Given [Bryan's] choices, I believe this in everyone's best interests to make this work," Leiweke said. "Bryan's going to have to occasionally take a deep breath and understand now that a GM now is going to have a direct report [to me] and final say-so on all basketball decisions, and he's going to have to live with that.

"I hope he can. Because if he can't, I'm fairly certain we're not going to fire the Toronto Raptors."

The team will begin to conduct a search for a new general manager, who Leiweke said in a conference call will get to choose his head coach and basketball staff.

That will leave current coach Dwayne Casey waiting on word as to his status.

As far as general manager candidates, Masai Ujiri of the Denver Nuggets has an expiring contract. The 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year previously worked as assistant G.M. for Toronto between 2008 and 2010. 

Raptors as Canada's team

Leiweke said he would not begin to speculate on candidates currently employed with other teams. He did say that the Raptors were denied permission to speak with a candidate gainfully employed elsewhere in the NBA.

He added that Raptors executive vice-president of basketball operations Ed Stefanski will be considered for the role.

Leiweke said the successful candidate will require a track record with drafting, developing players and the ability to steer through what will be a time of change.

"You guys all know, we need to do a pretty good job of making some decisions on trades in this organization in the next year or two," he said.

Leiweke said that Colangelo will advise on the GM search and will take on a role that will strengthen the team's relationship and brand with Canada Basketball, and in a push to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

On that note, Leiweke said the Raptors brand and uniforms should be more closely aligned with its standing as the only Canadian NBA team.

"We are Toronto's team, but we have to learn how to be Canada's team," he said.

As far as turning things around on the court, the new MLSE president said he's "puzzled" by the media perception that Toronto is not a desired location for many prospective free agents.

Leiweke said, in his experience, the league's players have only positives to say about the city.

He said that Colangelo will not be tethered to the Raptors; that is, he would be free to pursue any external opportunities.

Leiweke was most recently head of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the owner of the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Galaxy, and several sports teams and buildings. AEG also had a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Dynamo of MLS.

He previously served as vice president of the Minnesota Timberwolves and president of the Nuggets.