Tim Leiweke Interview (Audio), Implications for Colangelo (He’s Gone)

If you hear Tim Leiweke speak, you can say with some confidence that Bryan Colangelo is done.

I listed to the new guy on the radio, did a little research about what he’s done in LA, checked his relationship with Jeanie Buss, and have concluded that Bryan Colangelo’s days in Toronto are done. With the Leafs making the playoffs and bringing some genuine enthusiasm to the morose Toronto sports scene, the Raptors under Colangelo are now ominously standing out to be the missteps that Tim Leiweke is being brought here to correct:

The Raptors, for me, are the #1 reason this was an intriguing opportunity because I think we can change that team and we will change that team. I’m an NBA guy by heart, I love hockey and I certainly love soccer, but for me the first task at hand is working with the organization to bring not only a focus, but an energy to the Raptors, but a sense of enthusiasm and environment where people believe this will be one of the great organizations in the NBA for a long time to come.

There’s been no support of Colangelo from the board and the silence pertaining to his option is clear indication that they haven’t bought what was being sold by the Rudy Gay trade. Maybe they would’ve sign on, but under Leiweki, a man who tends to see things for what they are, and has genuinely high standards for the teams he oversees, Colangelo’s act wears too thin and there are simply too many sins in the resume for Leiweke to forgive. The Phil Jackson rumor is a nice one to mull over, and if that happens it would bring real credibility to the scene. I say “real” because that’s what Colangelo’s hire was supposed to bring, however that didn’t last past the honeymoon period.

For me, aiming for Phil Jackson speaks to being serious about winning, and offering the Zen Master the highest position available to a basketball executive is something that will, at the very least, peak his interest. Whether he bites or not is a different matter. Of course, maybe this is just a mummer’s farce and a publicity ploy by the Raptors, who find themselves paling in comparison to the blue and white. If that is the case, then **** whoever started this rumor.

Let me break it down in simple terms. The salary cap and luxury tax is a nice thing and brings a bit of parity to the NBA, but success in the league is ultimately built on whether your’e a financial have or have not; the Raptors find themselves to be perennial losers and its not for lack of financial power and spending:

This organization has greater resources than any organization in the NHL and NBA today. This is amazing what we have with Bell and Rogers, and their commitment to winning, and to have Larry and his reputation, I think that’s an amazing combination. Now our job is set a tone and an environment where everyone knows we’re going to get up everyday and say, ‘What can we do today to get ourselves closer to three championships?’

Toronto’s there, I think the frustration comes from when you don’t spend [the money] well.

The ratio of being top third in salary and bottom third in winning is a serious matter which speaks to mismanagement more than anything. After all, you have to spend the money in the right place and guys like Jason Kapono, Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza, Jarrett Jack and Landry Fields hardly speak to smart purchases. This is a damning track record that will be tough for Leiweke to look past.

Bryan Colangelo’s been on the record as saying that you have to overpay for players to come to Toronto and that, “if there’s a chance to play in one of the major markets in the States, like Chicago, LA, I don’t think we’ll ever win that”. This is at odds with Leiweke’s thinking that Toronto, as a package, should be easy to sell to NBA players. To me, this is a major disconnect. I’ve long maintained that the lack of winning is the problem with players not wanting to stay or come to Toronto, not the city or the taxes, the latter even Colangelo acknowledged isn’t an issue. As Leiweke said:

I do not accept the fact that players want to leave Toronto or won’t come to Toronto, and we’re going to change that culture.

The Leafs are an overachieving young team and TFC just finished making sweeping changes (hired a new head coach and GM), which makes the Raptors situation the most interesting. Keep in mind that this hiring has a lot to do with changing the intangibles around these parts. I’m hearing terms like culture, mentality, and approach, and it’s difficult to change that without a cleaning of the leadership up-top. Now, Bryan Colangelo is supposed to make a presentation to the MLSE regarding the state and future of the Raptors, which is basically, and embarrassingly, a job interview. A lame duck GM (and coach?) who are being made to wait by the ownership by not having this resolved during the season speaks to the lack of confidence MLSE has in Colangelo.

Leiweke doesn’t start till June 30th but don’t be fooled into thinking that he won’t have a complete say in Bryan Colangelo, especially given how he’s an NBA guy more than anything. It’s an exciting time, mostly because change is exciting.

Here’s the interview which aired on TSN 1050, I’ve cut the clip so it’s just Leiweke’s part:

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