2006 was the very first year Bryan Colangelo came in and took charge of the front office of the Toronto Raptors. The “BC Era” many called it. Most were optimistic, but it might be safe to say that the optimism is no longer present with him as the current general manager of basketball operations. Raptors Cage looks back and will evaluate some of the moves he has made in the past, also figuring out whether Bryan has earned the opportunity to come back for at least another year.
First, we look back at the NBA Draft, and the picks that he has made as the president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors. We will be giving a short summary on each player, and a draft grade for Bryan Colangelo on the choices he has made for this franchise.
|Andrea Bargnani: 1st Overall Pick2006 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: C Contract Extension Grade: D-||Andrea Bargnani is the player that will forever be the face of BC as long as both of them are here. Like both, they’ve given nothing but false hope, part of losing, disappointment, and inconsistency. A pick with much criticism, and most justified. Despite the disappointment, BC has always tried to sell the fans to him, and regardless of the lack of success, Bargnani is still a Raptor. The contract that BC than gave to Bargnani was uncalled for, and up to this point, regardless of his potential and talent, he has not earned it.|
|DeMar DeRozan: 9th Overall Pick2009 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: A- Contract Extension Grade: C||DeMar DeRozan is a player that has improved statistically, and physically every season. He has now become the arguable face of the shooting guard position of this franchise. A good pick, with much room to grow, but, along a good pick, comes a much discussed contract extension. Is DeRozan worth that much money? That is yet to be seen. Had BC waited for the season to end, and put DeRozan on the market, there would have been an opportunity to retain him at a much cheaper price.|
|Ed Davis: 13th Overall Pick2010 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: B+||Ed Davis was a big man slowed by injuries, but when he was originally drafted, it was considered a steal, where most had him placed in the top 10. He has turned into a much improved big man, and became a big part and asset as a trade for the Toronto Raptors. Credit goes to Colangelo, where he was able to keep a player – who turned himself into an asset – and used it as a piece to solve a puzzle.|
|Jonas Valanciunas: 5th Overall Pick2011 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: A||This pick was possibly the most hated by Raptors fans when the team originally made the selection. Overtime, fans started to search answers, and he was a big man with major potential, athletic, and has good skills for that age. His much anticipated arrival to the team was joy for the fans, as this season, the Raptors and fans were able to see the great upside he has. This pick was definitely the best out of all of Colangelo’s choices, because he is one expected to be another possible franchise player.|
|Terrence Ross: 8th Overall Pick2012 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: C+||Terrence Ross is another one of the potential picks BC has made. Safe to say, he brought something unexpected to the team, which was his major leaping ability. But, the rookie has had very few good showings, body language at times was an issue, and inconsistency faced him more as the season progressed. Blame can be placed on Dwane Casey, but Ross hasn’t shown much to warrant playing time. One way to summarize this pick? Ross was drafted to be a perimeter shooter, and ends the season as the Slam Dunk Champion. Definitely a player with much potential, but will he ever reach his ceiling as a Raptor?|
|Quincy Acy: 37th Overall Pick2012 NBA DraftRaptors Cage Draft Grade: B+||Quincy Acy was known as a culture pick. A hard-worker, incredibly intense, plays with 100% effort all the time, and known for his rebounding and defense. All of that was shown in the times he has played this season. Acy brings an incredible energy and life to the team when he’s on the floor. A player with arguably limited potential, but definitely proven himself to be an NBA player. Maybe not an All-Star, or a starter, but definitely deserves to be in the NBA.|
Bryan Colangelo hasn’t made a bad pick in his time with the Raptors, to look back at his selections, he’s definitely done an above average job of bringing in assets and players for this Raptors team. Like mentioned in the above, Andrea Bargnani will forever be the poster boy to Colangelo’s time spent as the GM of the Raptors, and as long as Andrea is here, the criticism will hardly die down. We now look into the trades he has made in his time as the general manager.
|Acquired Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley for Raphael AraujoRaptors Cage Grade: C+||This trade was obviously a positive, ridding of the bust in Raphael Araujo, and the last of the Hoffa era. Humphries would be a solid rotational player for the Raptors.|
|Acquired Rasho Nesterovic for Matt Bonner and Eric WilliamsRaptors Cage Grade: C||Rasho was a solid back-up big, and always seemed to play having the good side of the fans. A fan favourite, but to this day, Matt Bonner is the more successful player.|
|Acquired TJ Ford for Charlie VillanuevaRaptors Cage Grade: B+||TJ Ford proved to be one of the best point guards in Raptor history, only for his career to be cut short by injuries. Great deal otherwise, ridding of Villanueva, who is still trying to find consistency in the league.|
|Acquired Juan Dixon for Fred JonesRaptors Cage Grade: C||Must I elaborate?|
|Acquired Carlos Delfino for two second-round picksRaptors Cage Grade: C+||Second round picks are hard to use to find NBA worthy players. So, the Raptors traded for one.|
|Acquired Primoz Brezec for Juan DixonRaptors Cage Grade: C-
||Brezec didn’t play much. Saw a lot of pine.|
|Acquired Jermaine O’Neal for TJ Ford, Roy Hibbert & Rasho NesterovicRaptors Cage Grade: D||This was the deal that would probably forever hurt this Raptors franchise. Jermaine steps in with a bad contract, injury prone, and bad chemistry with Bargnani and Bosh. If this deal wasn’t made, Raptor fans could expect a third straight playoff appearance.|
|Acquired Shawn Marion & Marcus Banks for Jermaine O’Neal & Jamario MoonRaptors Cage Grade: C+||Shawn Marion played solid for half a season, and was an expiring contract. Plus, he got rid of O’Neal. Nice asset management BC.|
|Acquired Reggie Evans for Jason KaponoRaptors Cage Grade: B-||Probably one of the better small trades BC has made for the franchise in his time. Reggie was a rebounding machine for the team, and was able to get rid of Jason Kapono who was overpaid, and underperforming.|
|Acquired Antoine Wright & Devean George for Kris Humphries & Nathan JawaiRaptors Cage Grade: D+||Kris Humphries is now a much better rotational player than all of the other names. Antoine Wright played some solid games as the small forward, but, not much else from him.|
|Acquired Amir Johnson & Sonny Weems for Carlos Delfino & Roko UkicRaptors Cage Grade: A+||Great trade. Amir is now the possible starting power forward of this team, and has become the heart and soul. Quietly improving every season, he has now earned the worth of his contract, and is a key player for the current Raptors’ core.|
|Acquired Leandro Barbosa & Dwayne Jones for Hedo TurkogluRaptors Cage Grade: B+||Good deal. BC used his sweet talking on this one, making Phoenix take another overpaid, underperformaing player, and gaining a solid veteran in Barbosa.|
|Acquired Jerryd Bayless & Peja Stojakovic for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks & David AndersonRaptors Cage Grade: C+||To this day, looking at how both players are playing for their respective teams, an argument could be made for why Jack should still be in a Raptors uniform.|
|Acquired James Johnson for a 1st round pick, eventually dealt to Sacramento for a 2nd Round pick.Raptors Cage Grade: B
||Was the starting small forward for a season and a half. Was named the future SF, but overtime, tried to do more than his set role, and there was obvious clashing between himself and Coach Casey. Good short-term trade, and kicked him out when needed to. Although, trading James Johnson for second rounder either means the trade value for JJ was very low, or Colangelo did a poor job of trying deal him.|
|Acquired Kyle Lowry for a 1st-round pick & Gary ForbesRaptors Cage Grade: A-||That 1st rounder, is around the 12 area. Kyle Lowry is named as the starting point guard for the future. This season has been a disappointment for Lowry, but, depending on who OKC decides to draft, and how Lowry performs next season, this is a steal.|
|Acquired Rudy Gay & Hamed Haddadi for Jose Calderon & Ed DavisRaptors Cage Grade: B+
||Probably a trade that won’t be able to be evaluated for awhile, but Rudy has definitely brought some sort of star power and talent to the roster. When thinking asset management though, Colangelo could have included Terrence Ross instead of Ed Davis, resulting in a lower grade than expected. This wouldn’t have lead to the log jam of wings, and the Raptors would have a much stronger and secure front-court with Amir, Ed, JV, Acy, and Gray. Not to mention the fact Ed Davis was playing at a high level, and Ross would likely have limited minutes due to Derozan/Gay eating up the majority of the minutes. BC labeling Ross as “untouchable” certainly isn’t a great way to manage one’s assets, especially because Ross hasn’t earned the ability to be a core piece.|
|Acquired Sebastian Telfair for a 2nd round pick & Hamed HaddadiRaptors Cage Grade: C+||Telfair was security – also expiring contract – and traded a player the Raptors couldn’t even play, and a pick that would end up in the D-League.|
Looking at the trades and deals BC has made with his time as the GM of the Toronto Raptors, there are some great, and there are some below average. Trades are not always the easiest to evaluate, because some results aren’t seen till seasons in. He has managed his assets well though in the recent seasons, and definitely better than his first couple seasons in. Take a look now at the signings he has made as the Raptors’ general manager.
Free Agent Signings
|Anthony Parker (3 years, $12M)Raptors Cage Grade: B+||A player who played his best seasons in his NBA career here. A fan favourite, defended well, and was an excellent outside shooter.|
|Jorge Garbajosa (3 years, $12M)Raptors Cage Grade: B-
||Was another fan favourite, and played hard with that blue collar work ethic. Unfortunately, injuries hindered him from being a great piece.|
|Fred Jones (3 years, $11M)Raptors Cage Grade: C-||A player that never turned into anything.|
|Jason Kapono (4 years, $20M)Raptors Cage Grade: D+||He won the NBA 3-Point Shootout, and was a solid outside shooter for the team for about a year. Otherwise, under performed, and seriously overpaid.|
|Jose Calderon (5 years, $40M)Raptors Cage Grade: B+
||Calderon is a fan favourite, for sure. Deserves to be known as the one of the Raptor greats, and will be a Raptor in the hearts of many fans. One who worked hard and played for the team first, regardless of his defensive deficiencies. But, still isn’t worth almost $10 million a year.|
|Hedo Turkoglu (5 years $53M)Raptors Cage Grade: F||A player ending up being a bust, did not work hard, did not care for the city, and was obviously being used in the wrong role. Was a terrible fit, and the highlight of him as a Raptor was his commercial with Pizza Pizza.|
|Jarrett Jack (4 years, $20M)Raptors Cage Grade: B+||A guy who could have been a solid piece for this team to this very day. Wasn’t given the chance to be that guy. Eventually traded for a guy who would end up walking away.|
|Linas Kleiza (4 years, $19M)Raptors Cage Grade: D+||He’s played like 3 games this season… Doesn’t look like he’ll be back next season either.|
|Amir Johnson (5 years, $34M)Raptors Cage Grade: A||Originally when he was signed, the grade would be much lower, but considering the improvement, loyalty to the city, fans, and blue collar work, he’s definitely earned it.|
|Landry Fields (3 years, $19M)Raptors Cage Grade: C+||Weird, was used to try and block the New York Knicks from signing Steve Nash. Eventually, Nash would sign with the Lakers, Fields would sign a contract he isn’t worth at all, and currently sitting with a role of 4th wing off the pine.|
Looking back at the decisions BC has made, to summarize, he has made very solid draft decisions, an equal number of good results, and bad results in terms of trades, but poor financial management with the players in terms of free agency, and contract extensions.
Bryan Colangelo has created a number of problems early on for the team, which obviously has lead to this team missing the post-season for 5 seasons straight. The Turkoglu signing, the departure of Chris Bosh – the poor handling of the situation (no assets in return) – overpaying in free agency and steep prices on the contract extensions, and the mistake of trading for Jermaine O’Neal has put this team into a hole.
While Colangelo has done a solid job in the past two seasons of fixing those mistakes – Valanciunas pick, trading away Turkoglu, Lowry and Gay deals, some good asset management (Calderon’s expiring deal, Davis trade value increasing), Amir Johnson signing/deal – he put this franchise in a terrible, terrible position. Losing, with no cap space to show for it. The big question now is, should he return for one more year? The answer?
No. 7 years, and only 2 playoff appearances. The team has compiled a winning percentage of .423 (247-337), and the last three years Toronto’s winning percentage had slipped to .343 (79-151). This team is quite frankly a loser with Colangelo as the GM. He has sold false hope and optimism for 7 years, but results in disappointment. While team basketball results are up to the players’s performance level, he has not been able to make the moves necessary to make this team playoff bound, and with the new hiring of MLSE’s (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) president, Tim Leiweke, the expectation and goal is a championship bound team. Colangelo has never come close to that in his career as a general manager, and historically speaking, he has rarely created a team that is ready to compete in the playoffs. Colangelo’s goal has always seemed to create a competing team, not a championship team, and that’s where his philosophy is wrong.
With that being said, MLSE and newly anointed president, Leiweke, will make their decision on the current Raptors’ general manager Bryan Colangelo, and the future of the position. May 7th is the date, and depending on what side of the ball you are on, it’s going to be a much awaited announcement.