Tag Archives: Bryan Colangelo

Masai Ujiri leaves Denver for Toronto Raptors

From Yahoo! Sports

From the moment he took over the moribund Toronto Raptors last month, Tim Leiweke vowed to make some significant changes to return the team to competitiveness in the Eastern Conference.

It didn’t take him long to show everyone that he means business.

Leiweke lured Masai Ujiri away from the Denver Nuggets on Friday, giving the Raptors the reigning NBA executive of the year and a rising star among the league’s front office ranks.
”We feel very lucky to have Masai in our organization,” Leiweke said in a statement issued by the team. ”He is a proven judge of talent and we look for him to be a big part of creating a winning atmosphere, leading us to the playoffs and, ultimately, delivering NBA championships for Toronto.”

It will be a homecoming of sorts for the 42-year-old Ujiri, a native of Nigeria and the first African-born GM in America’s four major sports. Ujiri was the assistant GM for the Raptors for three seasons before leaving for the Nuggets in 2010, where he quickly made a name for himself.

”To come back to the Raptors, to live in such a great city, and work in an organization that has committed all the resources necessary to win championships was a huge factor in the decision,” Ujiri said in a statement. ”I have already developed a great relationship with Tim Leiweke and I can’t wait to get back to Canada to build a team that is poised to take the next step in the NBA.”

Ujiri earned respect for his deft handling of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York and his ability to assemble a relatively starless roster that still managed to be a formidable contender in the Western Conference.

With nary an All-Star this season, the Nuggets won a franchise-record 57 games and went an NBA-best 38-3 at home to finish third in the powerful Western Conference, helping Ujiri garner the NBA’s Executive of the Year honor to go with George Karl’s Coach of the Year award.

I am excited because I believe in Masai Ujiri but we all felt the same way when Bryan Colangelo came to the Toronto Raptors and we know how that turned out.  The mediocre culture of MLSE does terrible things to sports executives and their teams.  Let’s hope that Tim Leiweke can change that culture.

Another day of MLSE being MLSE

This new arrangement for the Raptors is messed up

The Raptors announced Tuesday that while Colangelo’s contract as team president is being extended, a new general manager will be hired within the next 30 days.

The changes were announced by Tim Leiweke, who is the incoming CEO of team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Leiweke also said he is moving up his start date from July 1 to June 3.

”We have a lot of work to do in this organization,” Leiweke said. ”We’re not good enough. I believe Bryan can help in a lot of those areas.”

The Raptors were 10th in the Eastern Conference this year, finishing out of the playoffs for a franchise-worst fifth straight season.

”There is accountability here and we need a new set of eyes and a new thinking,” Leiweke said.

Leiweke was hired last month after a successful period in charge of Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.

Leiweke said Colangelo fought ”like heck” to keep his role as general manager.

”Bryan’s probably ticked off at me,” Leiweke said, then paused to chuckle. ”There’s no probably. He’s ticked off at me. This isn’t his perfect world, either. But to his credit, he accepts it.”

Colangelo said he was ”a little disappointed,” but denied being angry at Leiweke.

”It’s a unique situation for me to be in,” Colangelo said. ”Not an ideal situation but I’m going to embrace it and make the most of it.”

Leiweke addressed concerns that keeping Colangelo around would complicate things for any new hire by stressing that the new GM will have complete authority on basketball matters and will report directly to Leiweke, not Colangelo.

”If anyone ultimately disrupts that process, then I’ll clean it up,” Leiweke said.

Colangelo said he understood the message from his new boss.

”The bottom line is, if I get in the way, I’m not going to be around,” he said.

Of course Leiweke wants Toronto to become Canada’s team.

Leiweke said he wants Toronto to celebrate its 20th anniversary as an NBA city by hosting the All-Star Game for the first time in 2016, calling the game ”a must-have.”
He also said he wants the team to build a new training facility and hinted at changes to the Raptors’ brand, acknowledging ”specific” conversations with the NBA about potential changes.

”We absolutely have had conversations about the color and the makeup of our brand, our uniforms and our image,” he said. ”To me, we should be all about the Canadian flag and Canada.

”We are Toronto’s team but I think we have to learn how to be Canada’s team.”

If you want to be Canada’s basketball team, win something.  That is how the Blue Jays did it and that is what the Raptors are going to have to do.  No one feels good about themselves wearing a Raptors shirt because the team is unstable and most often a team of losers.  You want us to care, consistently win.

According to reports, Leiweke didn’t want Colangelo to be kept around and it doesn’t sound like Colangelo wants to stay around.  In other words despite having new owners and a new CEO, MLSE is still MLSE which is bad news for sports fans in Canada.

How the Toronto Raptors are using technology to improve the team (and find it’s flaws)

A fantastic piece from Grantland

It is a very impressive piece of work. “Most teams are using spreadsheets or just using our reports,” says Brian Kopp, executive vice-president at STATS. “The Raptors go a step beyond that, which only a few teams are doing, and their visualizations are the best I’ve seen.”6

That does not mean it has been an easy sell to the team’s coaching staff, though Sterner and Nori are enthusiastic about analytics and have helped craft the ghost defense. Everyone likes the ghost system, but some of the larger analytics-related issues have caused friction between the front office and some of the coaches — even if everyone involved is mostly polite about it. “It’s always going to be a challenge,” says Ed Stefanski, Toronto’s executive vice-president of basketball operations. “A lot of high-level coaches have come out against analytics, but it’s the wave of the future, and you’ve got to jump on.”

Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors’ GM, had already set Toronto on the SportVU path before hiring Stefanski in the fall of 2011, and Stefanski credited Colangelo with pushing the Raptors in the right direction.

The coaches, even the most receptive ones, seem to view analytics and SportVU mostly as a tool to confirm what they already think and know. Some samples:

Dwane Casey, Toronto’s head coach: “It’s a good backup for what your eyes see.” Casey added, “It may also shed light on something else,” a sentiment both Nori and Sterner echoed at points. “But you can’t make all your decisions based on it, and it can’t measure heart, and chemistry, and personality.”

Sterner: “It helps reinforce your gut. Most of the time, your gut is pretty much right.”

Nori: “More than anything, it’s a tool to help confirm what your eyes see.”

The analytics team agrees that most of the new knowledge will be along the margins — that coaches leaguewide get most of the big, systematic things right — but that the analytics will nonetheless offer more in the way of new discoveries that might contradict what we think we know. “A lot of coaches will say how great it is that analytics confirm what they already see,” Boyarsky says. “The fact of the matter is, that’s not really true.”

An example: The analytics team is unanimous, and rather emphatic, that every team should shoot more 3s — including the Raptors and even the Rockets, who are on pace to break the NBA record for most 3-point attempts in a season.

So basically the Toronto Raptor’s computers are analyzing and second guessing the play and coaching of the Raptors.  Amazing the amount of variables they are dealing with.

Did Chris Bosh quit on the Raptors?

As Ball Don’t Lie sees it.

Did Chris Bosh quit? But Colangelo is right, and whether Bosh wants to delude himself or not isn’t our fault. Whether he likes it or not isn’t our fault either. I watched those games. Raptors fans, and there are many, saw those games. And I’m sure the bulk of them appreciated his amazing run over the first 50-plus games and can also understand why a guy takes it easy after being enervated by yet another middling season amongst a group of players who can’t defend or rebound. You’re still safer wearing a Bosh jersey in Toronto than you are wearing a Vince Carter jersey.

This wasn’t a tank job. And it certainly wasn’t every game. Maybe not even every other game. This was just Chris at about 85 percent of what we saw from him earlier that season (and his contributions agree with that percentage), and about 90 percent of what we’ve seen from him for his career. This wasn’t Carter. It wasn’t even Pau Gasol in his last year with the Grizzlies. But Bosh wasn’t going as hard in March. Especially on defense.

And when you act the way you’ve acted? Soliciting free-agent suggestions over Twitter on April 30 even though you’re still technically a member of the Toronto Raptors until July 1? Following Dwyane Wade around North America like a tagalong little brother? The Hamptons nonsense? The All-Star admission? Just being in the same picture as LeBron James, who has become public enemy No. 1?

It allows for those with long memories and nothing to do on a Tuesday night in March to recall what went down. That’s what you’re left with, Chris. And you’re best served not protesting too much. Better to let this slip away.

Kind of like you did with the Raptors’ season.