Tim Leiweke conference call on all things Raptors

9 mins read

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

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