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Old 03-24-2009, 06:07 AM   #1
Pistol Pete
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Default Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Bryan Colangelo – Brilliant Visionary or Overhyped Enigma?

A team mired in struggle and turmoil, a franchise saviour that turned his back on a city that cherished his every movement, draft picks wasted, seasons failed, the Toronto Raptors summarized in the early years of the new millennium. Former General Manager Rob Babcock helped grace the confines of the Air Canada Centre with fabled legends like Rafael Araujo, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and the disgruntled Alonzo Mourning, a franchise on the rise quickly fell back into a massive struggle. When all hope was lost, a miracle man with an aura surrounding him akin to that of a saviour entered the city of Toronto. The man, Bryan Colangelo, a motivated and charismatic basketball mind known for building an up and down style of basketball that worked to capitalize in transition and on the fast break, often criticized by many for ignoring the defensive side of the ball. This was the man that was going to take the beloved Raptors back to respectability and beyond.

Bryan Colangelo inherited a franchise that bred losing and a team that was content with being mediocre, his goal was very simple, inject a confident approach to an NBA basketball team that would result in wins and playoff appearances:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Colangelo on the Toronto Raptors, February 28, 2006
“This organization is well run. Basketball-wise it hasn’t always been up to par, but there’s been a lot of exciting moments in its young history. I think the stability is something that I’ll be in a position to help bring that to the table. I feel like they’ve given me the necessary tools to do that and we’re going to make the most of it.”


With a propensity to show no fear in making things happen, Colangelo wasted little time in overhauling the team. He entered at a time where rapid change was a very realistic and promising option – a young franchise player in place, cap space, and the #1 overall pick – he was free to create his own vision.

In his first move with the club, he dealt #8 overall draft pick Rafael Araujo to the Utah Jazz for 21 year old power forward Kris Humphries, a statement as much as a trade for value, Colangelo rid the Raptors of one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history, the transformation had begun. Less than two weeks later, he dealt fan favourite Matt Bonner, Eric Williams and a 2nd round selection to the San Antonio Spurs for center Radoslav Nesterovic, a hulking big man with history of winning that could provide experience and a much needed presence inside to aid power forward Chris Bosh. With the 1st selection in the 2006 NBA Entry Draft, Colangelo with a known affection for players of European descent went with potential laden Andrea Bargnani, a 7’0 big man out of Italy known for his deep shooting range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Colangelo on Andrea Bargnani, Draft Day 2006
“But when we looked at this pick, we wanted the best short-term and long-term solution. We felt that Andrea producing and progressing as a young player is clearly a player that not only is going to come in and fit into a young team with a young solid core, but he’s going to develop long term, we feel, and emerge to be the best player in this draft.”


Days following the draft, only 22 days after he first dealt Rafael Araujo, Colangelo completed his largest move to date trading versatile scoring forward Charlie Villaneuva to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard TJ Ford. Colangelo, a man aiming to create a high tempo team had found a point guard in Ford, who excelled in pushing the ball up the court, and more importantly, had a long tradition of competing and winning at all levels.

A man known for his affinity with Europe and the players hailing from the land across the sea, it was no surprise when Colangelo scoured for players who could come in immediately and allow the Raptors to compete right away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Colangelo on Free Agency 2006
“Again, not being a banner year, there are players that you – you’re not talking about going after and getting a calibre of a Steve Nash as a point guard, but you look to try to bring in pieces that complement what you have and we think there are some terrific complementary players that are available and they’re going to be similar to some of the things that have gone on around the league outside of the top-tier marquee names.”


Anthony Parker, a selfless off guard, European MVP, was the first acquisition of the 2006 Free Agency period for the Toronto Raptors. Only 11 days later, Colangelo brought in his next piece, another asset to bolster the interior of the Raptors, a gritty forward from Spain named Jorge Garbajosa. Colangelo continued to fill Toronto with team players who had histories of winning. In a single offseason, Colangelo had brought in four big men, a starting point guard and a starting off guard to complement his franchise player Chris Bosh; it was time to see if the recipe was a success, the 2006-2007 season was just around the bend.

In a modern day miracle, a franchise engulfed with losing and substandard play emerged from the darkness with the first division title in franchise history. The Toronto Raptors were victors of 47 games in that 2006-2007 campaign, a franchise high which earned them the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and home seed in the playoffs for the first time ever. A first round loss in six games to division rival New Jersey left not a feeling of disappointment, but an optimistic hunger for another shot at a new season. The energy in Toronto had returned, people were enthused, Raptors basketball had finally returned to respectability. For his efforts in turning around the franchise, Bryan Colangelo was named Executive of the Year for the second time in 2006-2007.

Was the man behind the transformation truly a basketball visionary?

The offseason of 2007 was a chance to harness momentum, address team weaknesses and make a stronger run. Bryan Colangelo identified a team need for outside shooting and athleticism at the wing position. Guard Carlos Delfino was acquired from the Detroit Pistons for two second round selections, an aggressive offensive threat known for his streaky shooting coming from a winning franchise in Detroit. One month later in a pair of moves, Colangelo brought in athletic wing Jamario Moon and then made his big free agent splash, using his mid level exception, 24 million dollars over 4 years on three point specialist Jason Kapono, fresh off a championship with the Miami Heat, another winner in town. Whispers surfaced about the signing, was six million dollars per season too much to spend on a one dimensional shooter, who were the critics to judge – Bryan Colangelo was the miracle worker who turned a loser into a winner, he could do no wrong, his Raptors were ready to defend their division title.

In a wave of disappointment and inconsistent play, a season filled with injuries to Jorge Garbosa, Chris Bosh, TJ Ford resulted in the Raptors running a record of 41-41, 2nd in the Division behind the powerhouse Boston Celtics and 6th in the Eastern Conference. It was a playoff berth nonetheless; a first round matchup with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic had fans wondering if the team was ready to take the next step, could they survive the first round? It was not to be, a quick five game elimination left the Raptors wondering why – interior defence, rebounding and a secondary scoring option at the wing – could they be fixed?

The entire city had grown more demanding of their Toronto Raptors, fans wanted to see the team take the next step, Colangelo needed to address major issues in order for the team to take the next step. Only two years after he had been acquired, and one season after he had helped lead the team to the best season in franchise history, Colangelo dealt point guard TJ Ford, center Radoslav Nesterovic, and a 1st Round Selection (Roy Hibbert) to the Indiana Pacers for former six time all-star big man Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal, long known for his interior defensive presence was brought in to bolster the interior defense of the club and provide a second scoring option for a club that lacked scoring outside of Chris Bosh. TJ Ford was replaced by backup Jose Calderon, the backup turned starter whom had played so well in times of Ford injury the year before, it was evident the team needed to select one star guard and move forward, Colangelo opted for the safer, secure Calderon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Colangelo on O’Neal Trade, July 9th, 2008
“Adding six-time all-star Jermaine O'Neal to this team puts us at another level with regard to talent, experience and competitiveness in the Eastern Conference. In speaking to Jermaine you get an overwhelming sense that he is focused, determined and willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win basketball games.”

The club was built to win – a formidable trio of efficient point guard Jose Calderon, big men Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal surrounded by complimentary players like Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono, it was time for the Raptors to regain hold of the Atlantic Division – 2008 was the year.

Inconsistancy plagued the Raptors to begin the 2008 campaign, a team filled with optimism and promise was struggling, answers were demanded. After an 8-9 beginning to the season, Colangelo fired former coach of the year Sam Mitchell, replaced by Raptors Assistant and former Canadian National team coach Jay Triano. Was this the solution to the problem? The reeling Raptors never recovered, limping with a 21-34 into the All-Star break, the biggest disappointment of the 2008 NBA season. Colangelo needing to fix a sinking ship, only three months after his debut as a Toronto Raptor shipped Jermaine O’Neal, forward Jamario Moon and a future first round pick to the Miami Heat for athletic forward Shawn Marion and reserve guard Marcus Banks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Colangelo on Shawn Marion Acquisition, February 14th, 2009
"This is a win-win for both Toronto and Miami and we wish J.O. and Jamario the best,"


The arrival of Marion was supposed to address another team issue, the lack of a solid small forward while in the background, help prepare for the future. Marion’s large maximum contract would come off the books at the end of the year and allow the Raptors some financial flexibility, possibly to address the weaknesses which still plague the team when Colangelo had arrived in Toronto – interior defense, rebounding and a consistent wing scorer. The Toronto Raptors currently sit at 25-45 through 70 games in the 2008 NBA Season.

Bryan Colangelo was brilliant in signing European stars to provide immediate relief, it allowed the team a chance to compete and change the culture of the franchise. The team performed probably beyond even his own expectations and goals, but beyond that point, did Colangelo begin to over think his own plans? Consistently plagued by Andrea Bargnani being a natural power foward; masquerading him at the small forward and center positions has resulted in trading the future and flexibility of the club for center Jermaine O’Neal, and then attempting to fix that mistake by moving him for Shawn Marion. The injuries and duel for playing time resulted in Colangelo selecting Jose Calderon, a slow efficient point guard to run an up tempo team, rather than the aggressive fast paced TJ Ford. Colangelo after a first offseason of bargain talent contracts subsequently overpaid for one dimensional players.

The man who brought winning back to the city of Toronto – he entered with a 1st overall selection, flexibility and a franchise power forward. At the moment, he has won, he has lost – he leaves his 2008 season with some flexibility, a franchise power forward and a high lottery selection.

Bryan Colangelo, a brilliant visionary or an overhyped enigma?
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Due to maximums on characters in a single post, I couldn't fit this in, I'd just like to say that this is merely to hopefully create some intelligent discussion on our board in what has been a very disappointing season, I tried to portray both the good and bad of what he has done - I probably would have liked to make it longer, but I wrote it over a three or four hour period in the middle of the night so it is what it is.

I hope you all enjoy the read, and hopefully the discussion that may result from the piece, please feel free to leave criticisms and comments, love to hear feedback since I don't post often.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

I hate it the fact that we have 1 bad year due to whatever reason and all this crap gets unloaded and now we question if we hired the right guy or perhaps fired the wrong guy.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

First I must say, very nice Pistol Pete. I enjoyed the read.

As for my opinion, I think that BC unknowingly completely transformed this team from what he originally intended it to be. In 2006-07 when BC came in, he was determined to turn us into an athletic run and gun team. He pretty much succeeded at that early on with all of those early trades and Euro-signings. Then, slowly but surely he began to trade away all the pieces that made us that fast paced, exciting team and brought in (one piece at a time) slower and more methodical players. Now we're in a position where he feels we should be a run and gun team, but we don't have the players to match that style anymore. I read an article earlier in the year that made a lot of sense to me. It said that BC came in as a proactive GM and then he became a reactioniary GM that tried to make that one move to fix the team. Like "oh the team doesn't rebound? Let me get one guy who rebounds and problem solved." "We aren't tough enough? Let me get one guy who gives hard fouls and problem solved." He had a clear vision early on, and whether that vision was good enough to make a legit title contender or not, at least he stuck to it. Now he's just wandering aimlessly trying to figure out piece by piece how we can get back to the top.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

A lot of what Bokes mentioned could be attributed to BC's infatuation with Bargnani (which Pete alluded to). This has no bearing on how I feel about Bargnani's abilities (I hope this isn't where the thread goes) but trying to accomodate for Andrea's growing pains has really wasted a lot of Toronto's time and assets.

However, I'm really looking forward to this offseason. We know that BC has a fairly good draft record with finds like Marion and Stoudamire near the are where the Raptors will probably draft. But aside from that, the FA market will the most interesting at least for me. I don't have the cap figures in front of me but resigning Marion (assuming his agent isn't stupid) will probably be the only big signing Toronto can make. But then again, does Toronto really want to replicate the team that has disappointed so much this season? This team has some talent but it's unclear whether a brand new season will lead to better results with basically the same roster.

The other option if to pursue other FA's and let Marion walk which is also very uncertain.

Finally, what I enjoyed out of Pistol's post is the reminder of how much things can change in such a short time. That's really all the optimism I can sum up at this point of the season.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

I'm thinking at this point if Marion asks for anything more than about 7 mill a year, let him walk. I'll always be a fan of the team, but honestly at this point i'm not very enthused with anyone of our players.

And, I also agree with bballnoob that Bargnani's development was placed at higher priority than improving the team because it was his pet project.

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Old 03-24-2009, 06:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Bargs has taken this team hostage. BC is going down with the ship because of his infatuation with Bargs. I really hope BC is right as my passion and support for this team will always be there. I hope BC's vision works out. I think he is the right man for the job.

Are we seriously considering if we hired the right guy? Do you remember who we had before BC? There is no way that this organization was managed well before he got here. This goes back to the Glen Grunwald days as well.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bada bing
Bargs has taken this team hostage. BC is going down with the ship because of his infatuation with Bargs. I really hope BC is right as my passion and support for this team will always be there. I hope BC's vision works out. I think he is the right man for the job.

Are we seriously considering if we hired the right guy? Do you remember who we had before BC? There is no way that this organization was managed well before he got here. This goes back to the Glen Grunwald days as well.

My post wasn't to decide whether we should fire Bryan Colangelo, nor was it to question if we should have even brought him here. Personally, I think he's a pretty solid basketball mind who has just botched a couple moves, but the real motivation was that Bryan Colangelo is widely considered to be one of the best minds in the game, similar to Buford in San Antonio, and I was just floating out the question, "is he really that good?"
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

I think firing Sam so early in the season was a big mistake and brings into question BC's ability to eye evaluate non superstar roster talent ie Adams, Solomon, Jawai not to mention that Barg's, his Raptor project, is best sutied to play the 4 spot which Bosh currently holds down.


Sam was given a roster full of bs- one that BC proclaimed as his most talented since being in Toronto, and did a comendable job, as we can now all see, by getting the Rap's to play up to the NBA competiton.

Whatever momentum BC had coming in to Toronto has been dissipated by questionable trades, draft selections & f/a signings.

Barg's developement is costing the team games 3 years after being drafted #1 overall.

Btw- if Sam doesn't resign to another team Jay will be back as HC. Still can't believe Evans or English didn't get the HC nod especially since Evans has expeirenced as a NBA HC. The offseason will speak volumes about BC.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Excellent post Pistol Pete.

And some good replies, kudos.

BC has made some bold moves since he arrived, Pistol mentioned most. But bold moves more often the not, back fire. And this has been the case with BC.

I was not a big proponent of Colangelo coming here, posted my thoughts and got pasted for it. Not the first time that happens, not going to be the last time either.

What, or should I say who created the opportunity for Colangelo to shine was Wayne Embry. Embry was "acting GM" for only a short period of time between Babcock and Colangelo. But in that short period of time he dumped Jalen Rose and his huge contract. I would have loved to let Embry take over for a while, but he had been around a very long time and I think his health would have gotten the better of him as the top man.

Out of all the moves BC made I think not doing everything possible to keep Embry around was his biggest mistake. Brian always had his father near by for guidance and he's now alone without a mentor to mitigate his impulsive behavior. Brian likes action, needs to be involved, needs to be seen, needs to be recognized. Being an attention seeker is not really a bad thing, they just take longer to mature. Embry could have been the stable person that made Brian wait things out a little before making moves. Guerardini is more of an advance scout then anything. He’s the guy that Stern should hire to bring the NBA closer to Europe.

The one move Brian made was to keep Andrea. Bargnani was / is his solace. Bargnani is proof to himself that he has patience. Guerardini has obviously helped Brian from trading away Bargnani. Not that that urge ever got really bad, at least not until this year and then Bargs finally breaks out.

Going forward, Colangelo will not be fired this summer or next year (sorry Boky). This is the biggest summer of Colangelo's career to date. Huge decisions need to be made and a ton or pressure is on to make this happen. But he thrives in that position.

Does Bosh stay or go, both options need to be explored. This will put Brian back into play with a lot of other teams and GM's. He's back into the centre of the universe and will again pull a rabbit from his hat. I liken him to Lee Iacocca, he can turn things around but he can't help but meddle to the point of destroying what he built.

Last edited by b4ball : 03-24-2009 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Wayne Embry is still with the organization IIRC.

Quote:
brings into question BC's ability to eye evaluate non superstar roster talent ie Adams, Solomon, Jawai

These moves were expected to be non consequential anyway. BC's shortcomings are there, but I think it's unfair to criticize him for second round picks/minimum level signings. Finding Moon alone for a 1.5 seasons should make up for that easily.
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bballnoob
Wayne Embry is still with the organization IIRC.



These moves were expected to be non consequential anyway. BC's shortcomings are there, but I think it's unfair to criticize him for second round picks/minimum level signings. Finding Moon alone for a 1.5 seasons should make up for that easily.


I think that's BC's greatest asset, personally. The Raps have had good value, low cost guys on the team... and on upper tier teams these guys would be role players... bench guys. BC's two greatest failings thus far have been in "big name" acquisitions and coaching. Kapono and JO clearly didn't work out (I'll leave Marion out, as he is a salary move... there's also the possibility of a sign-and-trade with him... if someone could explain exactly how that works ). I think the firing of Sam is something that needed to happen, but I think BC played hat card far too early in the season. Had he waited longer in the season, I'd wager the results would be the same, but the blame would be more on Mitchell and less on his players and his own skills. I'm sure if you asked him he;d agree on that front.

This all being said, I'm a patient man, and I'm willing to let the guy work out of this year.

(nice post, btw)

Last edited by RaininThrees : 03-24-2009 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:38 AM   #13
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaininThrees
This all being said, I'm a patient man, and I'm willing to let the guy work out of this year.

(nice post, btw)

I think that Colangelo definitely deserves atleast one more year, this offseason will be huge in determining his future with the club, if he can't turn it around, or show some significant improvement that the future will be better, I wouldn't be upset if he went - I'm a very large doubter that offensive up tempo basketball that ignores defense can even get it done, if he can't even deliver a winning up tempo team, it may be best to cut ties and try another GM before we lose all creditability.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaininThrees
I think that's BC's greatest asset, personally. The Raps have had good value, low cost guys on the team... and on upper tier teams these guys would be role players... bench guys. BC's two greatest failings thus far have been in "big name" acquisitions and coaching. Kapono and JO clearly didn't work out (I'll leave Marion out, as he is a salary move... there's also the possibility of a sign-and-trade with him... if someone could explain exactly how that works ). I think the firing of Sam is something that needed to happen, but I think BC played hat card far too early in the season. Had he waited longer in the season, I'd wager the results would be the same, but the blame would be more on Mitchell and less on his players and his own skills. I'm sure if you asked him he;d agree on that front.

This all being said, I'm a patient man, and I'm willing to let the guy work out of this year.

(nice post, btw)

As far as sign and trade's go, IIRC the motivation is that the athlete is able to get the most money he can (Bird Rights) but at the same time go to a team that would not have been able to sign him otherwise. I however don't believe that the Marion situation will go to that because he will not be demanding max type money and he seems like the mercenary type of player to me. He will go wherever the money is and no team IMO will sign and trade for him.

In the back of my mind, I think sign and trades are only feasible with Restriced Free Agents but I'm probably mistaken. This site is very good for questions like this:
http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

As far as firing Mitchell too early, I think it was pretty much a knee jerk reaction to what had transpired earlier. For some reason, I actually sat through that Denver game. Somebody was getting canned for that effort, no matter what. Obviously looking back, the results haven't improved but at the time, expectations were much higher than 8-9.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Bryan Colangelo: Visionary or Overhyped? (Warning: Long, Detailed Read)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bballnoob
As far as sign and trade's go, IIRC the motivation is that the athlete is able to get the most money he can (Bird Rights) but at the same time go to a team that would not have been able to sign him otherwise. I however don't believe that the Marion situation will go to that because he will not be demanding max type money and he seems like the mercenary type of player to me. He will go wherever the money is and no team IMO will sign and trade for him.

In the back of my mind, I think sign and trades are only feasible with Restriced Free Agents but I'm probably mistaken. This site is very good for questions like this:
http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

As far as firing Mitchell too early, I think it was pretty much a knee jerk reaction to what had transpired earlier. For some reason, I actually sat through that Denver game. Somebody was getting canned for that effort, no matter what. Obviously looking back, the results haven't improved but at the time, expectations were much higher than 8-9.

With regards to the sign and trade, I heard Colangelo mention it as an option on The Fan about a month ago, that's why I brought it up.

I do agree that after that Denver game, something needed to be done... the fans were up in arms already, and the writing was on the wall for where this season was headed. Regardless I think he played the card too early... he easily could have let Mitchell take the heat 'burn' a little more on behalf of the players (and himself) before letting him go, unless there's more to the issue than we know (ie - players approaching him wanting Mitchell fired).
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