Assessing Bryan Colangelo’s press conference [Apr 20]
Part I – Opening Remarks by Bryan Colangelo
This is an interesting process which involves certain things that can be discussed in a public way and other things that are best left alone.
Perhaps the initial success of the 2006-2007 season [47-35] was a case of “Too much, too soon”, and in the aftermath what he’s done, in the interim, involves a “poor job of managing expectations” on his part. A more cautious, less ambitious and less confident person might have taken a different approach in the atermath of that season. That is not who Bryan Colangelo is. He is constantly pushing forward and upward.
Still believes that this year’s team which broke camp in Oct  was “the best team, on paper” he has assembled during his 3 seasons at the helm with the Raptors.
When the team looked good this season it was because “people” followed “the plan” … which was:
* get ball up the court quickly
* have good ball movement
* execute a game plan defensively
In his judgment, when the team was good this season it was “really good” … and when it wasn’t good, it was because “the plan” wasn’t followed properly.
The make-up of the roster falls on him.
The trade for Jermaine O’Neal was made for the “right intentions”. It was a “swing for the fences” … that always had an “out clause” as a short term attack plan, if it failed to succeed. When it failed to succeed, the trade for Shawn Marion was made. This 2nd trade returned a degree of financial flexibility to the team going forward this summer, instead of having to wait until the summer of 2010 [when O'Neal's contract expires].
The main problem with the team this season concerned the health of Jose Calderon [PG] who, when he wasn’t healthy, was not able to play the way he can, especially, on the defensive end of the floor.
Bryan Colangelo does not buy, however, that the overall depth on the roster was a significant issue with this year’s performance.
Depth at the PG spot was a legit problem and Bryan Colangelo acknowledges that this falls to him as the GM.
The trade of TJ Ford created the need for a back-up PG which was not filled adequately by Bryan Colangelo. This was an error in judgment on his part because he did not assess correctly that he needed to go out and get an experienced player to back-up Jose Calderon.
Roko Ukic has chance to be good PG/player but the jury is still out on him.
Part II – Q & A with the attending media
Q1. Would Colangelo consider trading out of the draft to get a good veteran player?
A1. There are frequently good players available with the 9th pick. Can be aggressive and obtain a 2nd pick. Trade in to get another player rather than trade out. Sign and trade for Marion will possibly bring in vets. Possibly a vet with the MLE. Flexibility is good right now. Today they stay in the draft.
Q2. Is Jay Triano the coach for next season?
A2. The process needs to go according to due diligence. Change in other staff is to be expected.
Q3. Has Colangelo been contacted by agents for other coaches? Are other coaches interested in this job?
A3. Yes … in the normal course of business. No other interviews have happened to this point. He is a consensus person. Coaches are involved with the decisions here. There is sometimes a profession of being on the same page which isn’t what is necessarily the case. The public face is not always a private fact.
Q4. Can Jay Triano possibly return as an assistant coach next season?
A4. One step at a time first. See if he’s the next head coach, first and foremost.
Q5. How much pressure does Bryan Colangelo feel to turn this around and convince Chris Bosh to stay with the Raptors?
A5. Pressure is normal. Colangelo is not a nice person when the team does not win.
Q6. Do negative critiques of the job Colangelo has done thus far bother him?
A6. They fuel his fire. The need to have thicker skin. Motivate him more. Historical averages are what you fall back on. Fortunately his are quite good. If playing moneyball that’s what you go with. The Raptors ARE NOT playing moneyball however!
Q7. How difficult is it to have a clear vision if the team doesn’t know what Chris Bosh’s future holds?
A7. There is always uncertainty in the NBA. e.g. the Draft, the salary cap, free agents, etc.. The intention is to bring back Carlos Delfino. Good talk with Chris Bosh already. Bosh posted career numbers despite distractions this season. Arguably a Top 10 player in the NBA. CB4 is still the best player on this team. Intends to keep Bosh, as a cornerstone of the franchise. Will move Bosh only if need be.
Q8. How are the changing economics of the league effecting what the Raptors are trying to achieve?
A8. Expect the Salary Cap to come down [i.e. $57.5 M range]. Expect Luxury Tax in the $70.0 M range. Projections on 4.5% growth. When no growth occurs then drops will occur. Negative growth a possibility? Will change options for players. Teams will be more prudent with their spending. Only 4/5 teams are under the cap. Limit player options. Won’t make rash FA movings as has been the case in the past.
Q9. How are ticket renewals thus far?
A9. Down but no panic, yet. Reach out to customers. Downturn teaches you about the quality of your support team. Raptors’ support team is good. i.e. off-court staff. The team is further along than when Colangelo first arrived and “is not that far away right now”. Colangelo did not say far away from “what” exactly. Bargnani, Bosh and Calderon are solid pieces. A fairly high draft pick is on the way. Marion or assets in his place. Confident that the team is not that far away.
The fact is …
Yours truly happens to share some of Bryan Colangelo’s perceptions regarding the performance of this year’s Raptors team; and disagrees with specific others.
1. The initial success of the 2006-2007 season was a case of “Too much, too soon”. It set back the long term Action Plan which a High End Team in the NBA needs to develop and then implement properly … i.e. gradually … over the course of several seasons.
2. A major problem with the team was the back-up PG position. Bryan Colangelo fell down, in this regard.
3. Constructing a High End Team in the NBA is NOT equivalent to playing Moneyball. Historical averages are not relevant in the real life NBA. How a team “looks on paper” is irrelevant to the real life NBA game.
4. The team, as is, however, is NOT that far away from … being a solid entry in the middle of the Eastern Conference.
There was a fair degree of actual “NBA talent” on the team’s roster when it broke camp in October, especially if it was used in the following way:
#1. Calderon [solid all around PG; individual defense is not his strength]
#2. Moon [solid defender/rebounder; better perimeter shooter than some think]
#3. Graham [solid defender/rebounder; better slasher, perimeter shooter & post-up player than many think]
#4. Humphries [solid defender/rebounder; "energy" player who can put the ball in the basket when used as a Garbage Man]
#5. Bosh [very good under-sized Center; Leadership skills are his strength]
#6. Parker [very good utility player]
#7. Kapono [limited spot-up shooter; needs to be used strictly as a back-up]
#8. Bargnani [solid scorer; perimeter oriented, power-based Big; poor rebounder & off ball defender; bad Pick & Roll/Pop defender; improving individual defender vs Big Centers]
#9. O’Neal [nowhere near the player he once was; needs to be used in spurts]
#10. Solomon [PG, not ready for the NBA]
#11. Ukic [PG, not ready for the NBA]
#12. Adams [not enough talent to succeed in the NBA]
#13. Jawai [jury is still out, given his heart condition]
but not enough of it to get the job done properly should any of the typical pitfalls occur this season that jump up from time to time and derail any number of otherwise “okay” teams across the Association.
Similarily … the roster which exists today, does contain a certain level of actual NBA-level talent:
#1. Calderon [solid piece moving forward]
#2. Parker [needs to become a utility player]
#3. Graham [does not appear to be in the team's long range plans]
#4. Marion [an asset in a sign & trade possibility, or as an under-sized #4/PF]
#5. Bosh [a major asset; one of the best players in the Association]
#6. Ukic [make or break in 2009-2010]
#7. Kapono [still an asset as a dead-eye Catch & Shooter; missing NBA-level athleticism, at his position]
#8. Humphries [must recover from broken leg; a non-factor in team's plans]
#9. Bargnani [a solid scorer in this league; 3 years into his NBA career and the jury is still out, if he can ever become a well-rounded Center]
#10. Banks [Coal right now; Coal, tomorrow, and the next day after that]
#11. Ukic [Coal right now; might still be a diamond there]
#12. Douby [not good enough NBA-level talent to get PT on a solid team]
#13. Jawai [jury is still out]
#14. Voskuhl [6 fouls and a white towel, period]
#15. O’Bryant [Coal right now; Unlikely that there's a diamond there]
[Carlos Delfino, plus one or two 2009 Draft Picks]
just not enough yet to get the job done right, when it comes to earning a Top 4 spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, relative to the talent-level which exists on the other teams in this half of the NBA.
1. The injury to Jose Calderon was NOT the MAIN problem with this year’s team.
There were an array of MAIN problems with this year’s team, including:
* Not being on the same page with Sam Mitchell
* The decision to fire Sam Mitchell on Dec 3, 2008 … with an 8-9 W-L record
* The O’Neal trade which cost the team Ford + Rasho Nesterovic + Maceo Baston + the 2008 No. 17 [overall] Draft Pick, failing to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense & rebounding, in the process
* The decision to use a three-player Big Man rotation which featured Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani alongside of Chris Bosh … and, thereby, reduced the PT afforded to a highly serviceable “Banger” like Kris Humphries … failing to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense & rebounding, in the process
* The decision to give Andrea Bargnani copious amounts of PT … which increases the overall scoring output of the squad but also fails to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense & rebounding, in the process
* The decision to Buy Out Jorge Garbajosa, which failed to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense & rebounding, in the process
* The decision to acquire Shawn Marion [at the expense of a cost-effective rebounding & defensive player like Jamario Moon] and then use him primarily as a #3/SF alongside of Chris Bosh [#4/PF] and Andrea Bargnani [#5/C] … which reduces the effectiveness of both Marion and Bosh, who are playing out of their best positions in the NBA, and fails to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense & rebounding, in the process
* The decision to draft Nathan Jawai [2008, No. 41, overall], an unproven Big Man, as it turned out with a heart condition that kept him off the court for the better part of the season, which failed to improve the team’s front-court/interior defense, in the process
* The decision to not re-sign Carlos Delfino AND instead give addition PT this season to Jason Kapono, in his place, which failed to improve the team’s defense & rebounding at the Wing positions, in the process
* The decision to increase the PT of Jason Kapono rather than give consistent minutes to Joey Graham, which failed to improve the team’s defense & rebounding at the Wing positions
* The decision to sign Hassan Adams [OG/SF], which failed to improve the team’s defense & rebounding at the Wing positions
* The decision to not re-sign Darrick Martin and to go instead with two inexperienced PG’s [i.e. Will Solomon & Roko Ukic] in place of Ford [PG/#1 last season] & Martin [PG/#3 last season]
* The decision to keep Anthony Parker as the starting Off Guard and not shift him into the role of utility back-up player at both the PG & OG positions
* The decision to keep using Jamario Moon as a Small Forward/Power Forward rather than down-shift him to the SF/OG position, where he is better/best suited to play in the NBA
2. As an effective “Action Plan” in the NBA the following Recipe for Success:
* get ball up the court quickly
* have good ball movement
* execute a game plan defensively
is wholly inadequate.
Who Bryan Colangelo decides to retain as the head coach for the Raptors this summer … who is on that coach’s staff … and what specific decisions he then makes regarding Chris Bosh, Shawn Marion, Andrea Bargnani, and the 2009 Draft Picks, will determine which direction the Dinos’ take over the next several seasons, relative to the other teams in the Eastern Conference [i.e. Up, Down, or simply Treading Water].