||05-16-2013 10:06 AM
MLSE’s paralysis is the real issue
That MLSE allowed Colangelo to go to pre-draft scouting combine without making a decision on his future is SO MLSE.
We’ve reached a point where the re-hiring or firing of GM Bryan Colangelo isn’t the Raptors real issue.
The issue is MLSE’s paralysis in the face of a simple decision.
Their dithering sends this message to the fanbase: ‘We’ve decided we don’t know what to decide.”
Whatever his faults, real or imagined, Colangelo has always been careful to give off the appearance of control. During his post-mortem at season’s end, he artfully jettisoned his failed “three-year plan” and began pitching an upcoming “two-year window.”
It was bold salesmanship. You may or may not think he’s a top basketball executive, but you never doubted that he believed it.
For seven years, MLSE empowered Colangelo to sell a vision. It’s all been a little blurry out on the court, but at the least it had the advantage of being put forth with some confidence.
What this gongshow has revealed is that, behind Colangelo, there is no confidence. There is no vision. There’s a bunch of guys in bespoke suits specially tailored to accommodate a lot of high-friction shoulder shrugging.
Friday will mark a full month since the end of the NBA season. There’s been change in the corner office since then, but really, how long does new president and CEO Tim Leiweke need to decide whether or not he can work with the incumbent?
You and I would need a long lunch and a few hours of quiet time. Rogers and Bell — from the bottom of the chain right on up to the top — need weeks to get round to a service call.
This isn’t the fate of nations, here. It’s one guy and one year for a club that is already wedged into a corner by big contracts. Having let him come this far, it always made sense to let him see out the plan. After this coming year, there can be no excuses. It either works, or Colangelo’s gone. That’s the sort of performance certainty other clubs seek out. This one’s running from it.
If they’ve now decided that Colangelo isn’t their man, there’s an obvious successor already in place in his right-hand, Ed Stefanski.
Stefanski is a Colangelo hire but he’s not a Colangelo guy. There’s enough philosophic distance between them to pitch the switch as a small, required change in course, rather than a promise to continue ploughing into icebergs.
And yet, we wait.
Leiweke met nine days ago with Colangelo and received his vision. It’s not hard to imagine how that went — Colangelo’s script never changes. I can recite bits of it from memory.
Nevertheless, there is now every indication that this pointless saga could drag on until the end of the week or even beyond. Wednesday was the obvious drop-dead date — Colangelo and his staff flew out Wednesday to begin scouting the pre-draft combines in Chicago.
“I’m not discussing anything with anyone,” Colangelo said in an e-mail from Illinois. “Less said the better.”
Indeed. Another business day came and went without any word.
There’s one conclusion to be drawn from this extended contemplation: whatever side they come down on, MLSE does not believe in Colangelo. They’re trying to decide if it’s easier to do nothing.
So what now?
If you decide to pick up his option, you know, he knows and we all know that you’re doing it without any enthusiasm. The point at which this could be sold as an endorsement of Colangelo has passed. By waiting this long, you’ve painted the words ‘Least Worst’ on his forehead.
If you sack him, you look feckless and even a little cruel. Why let the man continue touring on your behalf if you didn’t intend to keep him? More to the point, if it’s to be a firing, why was there no succession plan in place long before the second week in May?
Everyone knew this past season was lost from the moment the Raptors tumbled into November in a heap of elbows. That was six months ago. Are they really just beginning to think seriously about this now?
This isn’t about a job any more. It’s about an organization that doesn’t know what it wants. Worse, it’s letting everyone in the basketball world know it doesn’t know what it wants. Any high-profile GM candidate will be looking at how this went down and be thinking, ‘No thanks.’
Whatever they decide in the end, they’ve already slammed into the first hurdle. Given the presumed management stability at the Leafs and Toronto FC, this decision was the tone-setter for the new MLSE regime going forward. As such, it’s a sad trombone.
In particular, it’s an unpromising start for Leiweke, who has yet to officially take over. He came into the job touted as a visionary. Decisiveness is the mark of that breed.
It’s been nowhere in evidence yet.
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