In perhaps the least surprising piece of news of all time, Bryan Colangelo has stepped down as the President of the Toronto Raptors organization.

Make no mistake, this is far closer to a Richard Nixon presidential resignation than any real voluntary action. Word is that he’ll remain with the organization in a consultancy position, though this is nothing more than further window-dressing to what was clear at the start of the offseason – Colangelo was fired by the Raptors, just in a really friendly way.

CBC Sports brings us the relevant Colangelo quote from the press release:

“Having had a better chance to reflect on things for the past several weeks, I have concluded that stepping away from my position is the best course of action for the organization and everyone involved,” Colangelo said in the release.

“I would like to personally thank Larry Tanenbaum, Dale Lastman, MLSE’s ownership and family and the wonderful people of Toronto for the opportunity to serve them over the last seven years. The support, kindness and adulation that has been displayed to me and my family has been overwhelming, and our friendships and experiences will last a lifetime.”

Ken Berger of CBS gives us this nugget of inside information on the relationship between Colangelo and the organization since Tim Leiweke took over the reigns:

A league source told CBSSports.com that Colangelo was at odds with Tim Leiweke, who was named named president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment in April. In his statement released by the team, Colangelo mentioned directors Larry Tanenbaum and Dale Lastman, as well as MLSE ownership, but did not mention Leiweke by name.

And then we have some twitterings:

Yup, I just embedded my own tweet. Gotta get that follower count up.

Anyway, as I mentioned, this move is not at all a surprise.

As Kinnon points out over at Raptors HQ, the benefit here is that the Raptors organization now has a clear hierarchy, which wasn’t really the case before this move.

MLSE Head – Tim Leiweke
Raptors GM – Masai Ujiri
Raptors Coach – Dwane Casey
Consultants (real) – Wayne Embry
Consultants (in name only, until they find another job) – Bryan Colangelo

So there you go, skeptics, Colangelo will no longer have anything resembling a fingerprint on this organization. Moving forward, it’s Ujiri at the helm making all of the decisions, emboldened by a sizable contract and the support of Leiweke (who’s probably going to be too busy trading for goalies the Leafs don’t need to pay the Raptors much attention once Ujiri gets going).

For some perspective, Colangelo joined the Raptors in February of 2006, winning the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2007 and never again sniffing success with the franchise, being removed from his General manager role in may of this year.

Among Colangelo’s blunders was the drafting of Andrea Bargnani first overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, a move that was a roll of the dice that didn’t pay off and one that has followed him around like an albatross since. That situation wasn’t made any better when in July of 2009, Colangelo doubled down on his bet by giving Bargnani a five-year, $50M contract that immediately looked like a mistake.

Beyond Bargnani, Colangelo also showed impatience in rebuilding the team the proper way, first failing to recognize the team’s 2006-07 Atlantic Division title was a bit of a fluke, and then trying to save his job by dealing for Rudy Gay this season. He traded away first round picks multiple times (for Jermaine O’Neal, for Kyle Lowry) and went through three coaches, the maximum allowed for just about any GM. And he gave terrible contracts to Jason Kapono and Hedo Turkoglu while overpaying Landry Fields in a failed play at Steve Nash this past summer.

He also handled the Chris Bosh situation terribly, assuming Bosh would stay for extra cash and failing to get anything in return for him when he bolted for the Miami Heat with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. This type of thing happens, I suppose, but Colangelo clearly misread Bosh’s intentions, leaving the Raptors with Bargnani, a 21-year old DeMar DeRozan and little else to build with, resulting in an 18-win drop and a fall back into irrelevance.

All of Colangelo’s moves weren’t bad, though, and except with Bagrnani he showed a willingness to move on from mistakes and shake things up. He did a fine job identifying undervalued talent like Kris Humphries, Carlos Delfino, Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker, acquiring them for little in the way of assets. He certainly has some knack for scouting the international game and will probably find a type of figurehead job with USA Basketball or heading up an international scouting team.

Colangelo probably won’t be unemployed for all that long – his dad, Jerry Colangelo, is a well thought of and highly tied-in basketball mind, plus the younger Colangelo has hardware on his mantle, which carries weight. He also has the type of demeanor and delivery that could help him sell snow to an Eskimo, so it’s easy to envision him convincing another organization that the Raptors’ misfortunes were largely beyond his control.

Look, I didn’t hate Colangelo. He was somewhat entertaining, very outspoken and had a good idea for the business side of the operation. I also liked that he was aggressive and unapologetic, traits that are generally necessary for success in the sports industry where you’re always under a microscope.

But in basketball terms, Colangelo just wasn’t that good. He seemed like someone playing NBA 2K, becoming enamored with rebuilds but then overestimating his own abilities and jumping all-in when a player who might be fun to play with became available. His constant mis-reading of the free agent market, the value of his own players, and the intention of those around the organization were his undoing, and they’re largely laughable in retrospect.

I wish I could say it was a fun seven years, but it wasn’t. It was almost always frustrating, usually confusing and rarely anything to get excited about, at least in the last half decade. I wish Colangelo the best because, like I said, I don’t dislike him, just his moves, but the Raptors’ organization is better off today than they were yesterday.

  • Happy Days are here again!

    Can someone tell the con-man about the footprint mark on his rear end and remind him to close the door on his way out.

  • Marz

    I know a lot of people hated Colangelo, but I had nothing but absolute seething hatred for Rob Babcock who *actually* set this franchise back with dumbfounded moves that were dumb before hindsight! Yes, Colangelo made several moves that I disagreed with – I told a friend the JO trade only made sense if we kept him till his contract expired, I hated Hedo Turkoglu long before he was a Raptor (there’s just something about his face), et cetera – but none were so back breaking that they set the franchise back decades. So yes, my reason for not hating Colangelo is “At least he’s not Rob Babcock”.

    Still, glad to see he’s moved on and our front office has some semblance of structure.

  • Blackjitsu

    Well said Mr. Murphy. Hope you get that increase in Twitter followers as well.

  • Duncan

    Jeff Winger tweet was too good lol 😛

  • Guy

    So Colangelo initially being retained is going to have no ill-effect on the Raptors whatsoever….Gee, what a shock.

    As should come as no surprise, all those that were matter-of-factly telling us how dangerous it was that Colangelo had been retained & that ‘Sam Mitchell thinks it’s a bad move’, have been found guilty of crying wolf. Of yelling FIRE, when there was no smoke. Of making a mountain out of a molehill.

    On the other hand, those of us that advocated a wait & see approach when Colangelo was retained have been completely justified. Again, no surprise.

  • hyperdouche

    I remember the excitement I felt when he joined the Raptors in early ’06 – I really felt that the Raptors were on the up-and-up. Let’s not slay the man, sure he’s got to take a few lumps but it was a huuuuge coup for us when he left Phoenix for the Rob Babcock Raptors.

    One thing I did notice over the last couple of years especially was how he seemed to be stuck in the past a lot – he’d get hung up on trying to re-do a move that he had made previously and not notice how things had changed in the interim. A great example is the Gay trade – it’s like he wishes he took him in ’06 instead of Bargnani so when he came available in March he was able to right a wrong in his head. The Steve Nash play last summer was another of those – trying for that old Nash Phoenix magic once again.

    Anyways, It’s time he’s moved on but let’s not totally hate on the guy – he did have some good parts to his tenure in Toronto.

    • SR

      Interesting – good thoughts re: Gay & Nash.

    • Bendit

      This is not a BC slag but he did not leave Phoenix for the Raptors as an altruistic move. He was on his way out there. New ownership (Sarver) and he did not get along. Whether it was $ on a new deal or that the Colangelos were the previous owners and Sarver wanted a clean break is unknown. That said, yes, his arrival here was much applauded.

      • hyperdouche

        Fair point – The money was getting a lot tighter in PHX and he was looking to make $$ and shape the roster. He parlayed his PHX success (everything really fell into place with the Nash signing) into getting paid top dollar and a ‘President’ title.

    • raptorspoo

      Don’t hate the guy… but doesn’t change the fact that he’s an idiot

  • Timo in Waterloo

    Time for the new regime to make it’s mark… get a pick for the draft, and I suggest you take Peyton Siva

  • Webskeet

    “A league source told CBSSports.com that Colangelo was at odds with Tim Leiweke, who was named named president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment in April. In his statement released by the team, Colangelo mentioned directors Larry Tanenbaum and Dale Lastman, as well as MLSE ownership, but did not mention Leiweke by name.”

    Now we know why Dougie Smith has it out for Tim L.

    • Andre

      I don’t understand that dude. Smith gets on my nerves, I used to read his blog but it got harder and harder to believe the stuff he was say. He defended Andrea and BC ALL the time and never asked the hard questions. Im actually happy he doesnt like Leiweke, so he can actually do some work and report the facts.

  • Bouncepass

    There are plenty of reasons to criticize Colangelo, but I still don’t understand why he gets slagged for the Bosh situation. Bosh and his agent had their sights firmly set on Miami. In that scenario, why would another team trade anything for Bosh, just to see him leave as a free agent? In the meantime, Bosh kept up the false appearances that he might stay with Toronto just to keep a bit of public pressure on Colangelo. LeBron James netted the Cavs two first round and two second round picks. Chris Bosh netted the Raptors two first round picks. Both players had all the leverage, and the Raptors and Cavs were left trying to make the best of it. Suggesting that Colangelo could have acquired more assets if he traded Bosh earlier assumes that other GMs didn’t know that Bosh was planning to become a free agent and probably determine his own destiny. That is a foolish assumption.

  • NyAlesund

    At last……

  • Andre

    I am very happy he is gone. I don’t hate him, I just believe his shelf life was way over due. If you dont win for 5 years its time for a new vision. Hopefully Masai rights this ship, or bye bye to him too.

  • Brandon

    Only quibble is the idea of the “fall back into irrelevance”. The Raptors were never relevant in the first place. Relevance is where Miami and a few other teams are right now. The Raptors are now what they’ve always been — the punchline to a joke about irrelevance.

    • Copywryter

      A punchline that isn’t even funny.

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