My notes on the call; forgive some of the spelling/grammar/incomplete thoughts, I was listening and typing furiously: Tim Leiweke on Bryan Colangelo staying on as President

– Spent a lot of time talking to people around the NBA he respected getting feedback and analysis – The window took a bit too long, but the process took what it took – Protects the best interest of the organization going forward in a few respects: 1) On basketball, there is great debate on decisions made that resulted in no playoffs for 5 years 2) Has a great relationship with Canadian Basketball Association; and trying to grow that relationship 3) Want to win the 2016 All-Star game 4) Build out a new practice facility – Great stress on Bryan’s relationship within the NBA – Need to hire a GM that has the responsibility and authority on all basketball related issues; reporting directly to Tim – There is no budget for a GM per sey; but ownership is willing to do what it takes

Tim Leiweke on potential conflicts with keeping Colangelo on

– Understands this will take a lot of effort – Understands that the previous President/GM is now just the GM – The timing and circumstances and Bryan’s choice to stay will go a long way in making this work – Will be challenging for Bryan, but if he can’t make it work “I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to fire the Toronto Raptors” – Will have to honor this process, and make sure that the GM will have the authority to make decisions without disruptions from anyone otherwise Tim will clean it up

Tim Leiwke on Bryan having the opportunity to explore other basketball opportunities in the NBA

– Yes, he can explore

Tim Leiweke on the process to finding the GM

– Tim is doing the search himself – Speaking to candidates, and trying to get permission from other clubs to speak to their execs – The last two weeks were spent talking to people around the NBA who gave Tim direct feedback on mistakes and good decisions that were made over the last few years – The spectrum of advice ranged from cleaning house to keeping Bryan in his current role – Bryan will be involved in the process, giving advice, but ultimately the decision is Tim’s – Search firm is only giving background on the candidates, nothing more – Is the most important activity of the organization for the next couple weeks

Tim Leiweke on where other people on the basketball side stand

– All up to the new GM who comes in – The person who they trust, will be handed all authority to make whatever decision he will want to make; neither Tim nor Bryan will have any say other than advice is asked

Tim Leiweke on his ambition to rebrand this team

– Has given a lot of thought to this – Spent an entire day with Stern/NBA from a basketball, business and image standpoint – Clear that all of Canada doesn’t support the Raptors; they are Toronto’s team, but not Canada’s team – This needs to change – The Raptors should reflect Canada in their image and branding for the upcoming 20th anniversary of this team – 2016 All-Star game is a must have for Toronto to have – “Toronto is not bidding on the 2016 All-Star game; Canada is” – Tim Leiweke

Tim Leiweke on who will be running the basketball side while the GM is being hired

– Will lean on Bryan and Ed for the operation in the interim – Prefer to not make any major decisions aka Casey’s situation is the decision of the new GM – There is an immediacy to get this settled in the near future

Tim Leiweke on the training facility

– The CBA has impacted the league – Recruiting/environment/atmospher is as important factor in getting players – “Players love Toronto; including big players in the league today” – Tim Leiweke – Big misconception that the Raptors have a disadvantage in attacting and retaining talent; he’s not sure where this came from – We are going to change how people think about this organization

Tim Leiweke on Bryan Colangelo

– Bryan loves the city – He is ticked off at Tim, but understands the process and his role in this – Bryan has the wherewithall to stand aside and let the new GM make all basketball related decisions – Bryan fought very hard to keep his job, which is why he is still part of the organization – Key will be to channel his focus to help the team, otherwise will fix it

Tim Leiweke on how extensive the list for the new GM is

– Have good relationships around the league – Have spoken to a lot of people to get a lot of feedback on the top 3 or 4 people who should get the chance to run their own team – Focused list where the candidate has had success in making trades – Require experience, track record and knowledge in drafting – Will need to express a philosophy of play to the coaching staff, and be able to keep communications open to maintain that vision – Not a list of 20, but closer to a half-dozen; some of the people on the list haven’t got permission from teams to speak with – Ed Stefanski is on the list

My first thoughts on Tim are that I really like him, a lot! Granted I was also enamored with Colangelo from his first conference call, but this smells wholly different in a few ways:

  1. Tim was brought on board to build a winning organization; so was Bryan, but the reporting structure is much different with a capable exec overseeing management rather than a faceless board with potentially many different voices
  2. The new GM will be subject to much more feedback and scrutiny (in terms of results as opposed to specific moves) on a more frequent basis than Bryan was since Bryan reported to the board, and the new GM will report to Tim
  3. Feels like there will be a shorter accountability cycle than the 7 years Bryan had (you like how I’m referring to him as Bryan and not Bryan Colangelo?)
  4. He is running the search for the GM himself, and hasn’t outsourced it; the search firm is only doing background checks
  5. It is very important to change the optics of this team to being Canada’s team and not Toronto’s team; the bid will be a Canadian bid and not a Toronto centric one
  6. There will be new attention and focus given to recruiting players
  7. Also very important to change the perception that players don’t want to be in Toronto; Tim finds this ridiculous
  8. Sounds like there will be a re-branding, or at least a refresh of the image/brand, thank God!!!!
  9. Tim stressed a couple times about the relationships that Bryan has around the league. He’s been in the NBA for a very long time, and has great relationships with a lot of powerful owners/execs around the league which was, I imagine, a big determining factor in extending his employment with the team

  • c_bcm

    Sounds like a good impression was made. I am glad with the decision to keep BC on in some capacity. Hopefully he decides to stay with the team. Although, with the new GM reporting to Tim and not Bryan, I am not sure what he will be doing exactly. I suspect he will get an offer from another team and move on.

  • Bendit

    #9 on relationships around theNBA…lets not forget that Jerry Colangelo is still an influential voice in the league and Basketball USA and also with a very large bank account. This alone would necessitate treating BC with gloves. I personally dont believe he sticks arounds too long.

  • Roarque

    In a nutshell, Colangelo deserves the time to find the right place for his future. Also it doesn’t hurt that Masai Ujiri respects him and that Brian mentored him into the position he now has in Denver. Masai will come in to run the team in year one while Brian does the All Star game and the new practice facility which would just be distractions for Mr Ujiri. By the end of year one, Brian better have a new job elsewhere or be ready to accept a steep decline in his take home pay.

  • golden

    It will be ironic if Raps end up hiring Ujiri as GM. Colangelo could have saved himself a lot of heartache if he simply promoted Ujiri to GM a few years ago and kicked himself upstairs.

  • jamesk

    This is not Canada’s team, f sakes, can’t stand corny maple leaf BS

    • Sam Holako

      I think the point he was making was to make this team more like the Jays with respect to how the rest of Canada feels about it.

      • Bouncepass

        Win… that’s all.

      • smh


        • Wiley

          It can be if they start winning. It’s Canada’s only team so there-for it’s Canada’s team. I’m from Montreal and they are my team.

  • jamesk

    Let’s recap Brian Burke’s press conference, I mean lieweke: I’m the boss I’m the boss I’m the boss.

  • smh

    #4 and #5 = interesting indeed.

  • Andrey

    f*ck how many maple leafs are they gonna plaster on jerseys now? most players are not even Canadian. What’s wrong with Raptors being Toronto’s team? They don’t play anywhere else in Canada, don’t they. People are right, start winning and everything will be set. I know they are trying to make it into Canada’s team so that more people support Raptors and buy your merchandise but why cut off American market in a process? God I swear if they change the name Raptors to Huskies or some shit I’ll be pissed as fuck.

    • Tim W.

      Yes, better keep the name they came up with to take advantage of a movie craze that had passed by the time the team even took the court.

      A few facts about Velociraptors:

      1. They are WAY smaller than they appeared in the movie. They don’t even come up to an adult’s waist.

      2. They most likely had colourful feathers and looked more like an exotic chicken than the dinosaur shown in the movie.

      3. They never lived in or around the Toronto area.

      One fact about the history of the Raptor franchise:

      They have one of the worst records in professional sports over the last 17 years so most people equate the name Raptor either with a 20 year old movie or a losing basketball team.

      But yes, by all means, be offended if they change the name.

      • Ben

        Another positive of the name raptors, it can be easily modified to craptors thus providing a hilarious punch line for basketball fans everywhere.

      • Guy

        I’m sure he’s thrilled he has your permission to be offended. On a side note, if you’re so on board with a name change because of a less than stellar history, might I suggest you change the name of your blog from ‘The Picket Fence’ to something else because, from what I’ve seen, it’s been a gong show.

  • Mike

    I can see the new name now “Toronto Iron Men”..just because you know Iron Man is popular right now. Leave the name as is, no need to rebrand. WINNING will make the Toronto Raptors Canada’s team. Observations so far on Leiweke is that he is very ambitious, in soon time he will realize that operating in Canada is much different than operating in the US. Same issue of attracting players and public perception will still exists.

  • Alex Bill

    Of your 9 points at least 7 were BC’s also. I know it’s the difficult job of the prognosticator to find difference, but for sure the only real change that we can see so far is # 3 and #4, everything else is stuff BC aimed for too. Just because he didn’y achieve it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden Tim is a hero for having the same goals.