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Colangelo out as Raptors GM, still president

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TORONTO (AP) - Bryan Colangelo is still president of the Toronto Raptors, but he's no longer the club's general manager.

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The Raptors announced Tuesday that while Colangelo's contract as team president is being extended, a new general manager will be hired within the next 30 days.

The changes were announced by Tim Leiweke, who is the incoming CEO of team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Leiweke also said he is moving up his start date from July 1 to June 3.

``We have a lot of work to do in this organization,'' Leiweke said. ``We're not good enough. I believe Bryan can help in a lot of those areas.''

The Raptors were 10th in the Eastern Conference this year, finishing out of the playoffs for a franchise-worst fifth straight season.

``There is accountability here and we need a new set of eyes and a new thinking,'' Leiweke said.

Leiweke was hired last month after a successful period in charge of Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.

Leiweke said Colangelo fought ``like heck'' to keep his role as general manager.

``Bryan's probably ticked off at me,'' Leiweke said, then paused to chuckle. ``There's no probably. He's ticked off at me. This isn't his perfect world, either. But to his credit, he accepts it.''

Colangelo said he was ``a little disappointed,'' but denied being angry at Leiweke.

``It's a unique situation for me to be in,'' Colangelo said. ``Not an ideal situation but I'm going to embrace it and make the most of it.''

Leiweke addressed concerns that keeping Colangelo around would complicate things for any new hire by stressing that the new GM will have complete authority on basketball matters and will report directly to Leiweke, not Colangelo.

``If anyone ultimately disrupts that process, then I'll clean it up,'' Leiweke said.

Colangelo said he understood the message from his new boss.

``The bottom line is, if I get in the way, I'm not going to be around,'' he said.

Leiweke said he is handling the search for a new GM himself and has a list of about a half dozen ``very specific'' candidates, adding that he's been turned down in some requests to talk to candidates currently with other teams.

One of the candidates will be current Raptors assistant GM Ed Stefanski. The former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets was hired by Colangelo in October 2011.

``There's no doubt that Ed is a very solid basketball man,'' Colangelo said. ``I'd be happy for him to get a legitimate look at the job.''

Leiweke said the future of coach Dwane Casey and all other coaching and front office staff would be decided by the incoming GM.

Leiweke said he wants Toronto to celebrate its 20th anniversary as an NBA city by hosting the All-Star Game for the first time in 2016, calling the game ``a must-have.''

He also said he wants the team to build a new training facility and hinted at changes to the Raptors' brand, acknowledging ``specific'' conversations with the NBA about potential changes.

``We absolutely have had conversations about the color and the makeup of our brand, our uniforms and our image,'' he said. ``To me, we should be all about the Canadian flag and Canada.

``We are Toronto's team but I think we have to learn how to be Canada's team.''

Colangelo, 47, joined the Raptors in 2006 and was named the NBA's executive of the year in 2007 when Toronto won its only Atlantic Division title. He also won the league's top executive award with Phoenix in 2005.

``I don't believe I'm being pushed off into a corner somewhere,'' Colangelo said. ``I think I'm going to be utilized in a fashion that my 18 years of experience, and quite a bit of success along the way, is going to be tapped into.''

That starts tonight, when Colangelo will represent the Raptors at the NBA draft lottery at Times Square in New York.

``It's not a great place to be,'' Colangelo said of being in the lottery. ``Hopefully it's the last time this team is there for a long time.''

Toronto has a 0.7 percent chance of winning the top pick. If Toronto's selection falls outside the top three, it will belong to the Oklahoma City. The Thunder picked it up from Houston, who acquired it in the trade that sent guard Kyle Lowry to Toronto last summer.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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