Wow….amazing interview with the Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo this afternoon on the Tim and Sid: Uncut radio show.
Below is the entire transcript from the Q and A. Tim and Sidizens deserve the real Bryan Colangelo interview: UNCUT, with nothing left to the imagination.
Sid: Hello, we say hello to Raptors present GM, Bryan Colangelo. Bryan, Welcome to Tim and Sid: Uncut. We heard we were going to have you on and we wanted to talk about your extension, the draft, you know – your plans for the Summer, your style. I want to being asking you, how good is your Italian?
Bryan: “Quite honestly, not very good, I’ve been married to an Italian woman for 20 years now. The kids speak fluently in the house all the time, um, I figure the only way I’m going to get a word in edge wise is if I speak English. Split language in the household, I probably know enough to get in trouble. Sounds like Dave Feschuk or something.”
Tim: You don’t want to argue in your second language.
Bryan: “Just to clarify again. What Dave wrote is not totally off base but it was just a little bit inaccurate and I think by Andrea making a statement, and coming out and saying, “Look, none of what I said came across that way. I was on a broadcast.” You know what he said was not meant to be harmful to the City of Toronto, to the organization, to me, it was just, “hey I understand that I got to get better and I’m going to do that. And, oh by the way, if they are going to trade me, I hope it’s to a warm weather city.” You know some of that stuff can be taken out of context when it’s translated from a radio or tv interview overseas. So let’s not sensationalize, let’s just say it was an overstatement and move on.”
Tim: There are two things that Raptors Nation wants to hear you respond to in that, two of them, I think that it’s almost fair to say, one of them was “Where I can actually play my role” and the other one “they were not very courageous comments about me”. Do you think those were lost in translation or is it fair to respond to those?
Bryan: “Yeah, I don’t think that anything that he said was, you know, necessarily written about. I did not hear the interview but I was told that the kid (Bargs) was pretty upset about what was translated or communicated and in fact his press agent, was supposedly sitting next to him while he was conducting the interview and you know, she heard things completely differently as well. So again, I don’t have the words in front of me, I don’t have the translation in front of me, I’m just going to tell you that you know the kid did not want to hurt anybody, certainly not the fans of Toronto, the City of Toronto. He was not requesting a trade. The guy said, “Well, what if they do trade you?” and he (Bargs) said “Please make sure it’s a warm weather place.” That’s all. So, let’s move on – next topic.
Sid: Bryan, if I may, and I know you asked to move on and we will. You do obviously understand how sensitive your fan base is to this kind of stuff. And even the implication, considering what has gone on, I mean you can understand this blowing up, can’t you?
Bryan: “Uh, yeah, I can if there was any truth to the translation or accuracy to the translation. And again, Dave, you know utilized what he called a trusted source. I spoke to, you know, my guy Maurizio, I spoke to the, or Maurizio spoke to the press agent, Maurizio spoke to the kid himself. He didn’t say those things and if he did specifically say that, again, in a…whether it was a tongue in cheek, or the way the interview was conducted, we all have to understand where it comes across. I think the kid’s statement clarifies it all and it’s time to move on. It should not be blown out of proportion. The kid loves playing in Toronto, he thinks the organization has treated him well. He actually appreciated the comments that I said post season which was very matter of fact, hey, if he wants to hit the elite level, he needs to work on certain and specific things because right now he’s not an elite player but he’s a very good player and when asked if I would consider trading him, I said nobody on the team is untradeable. At the time, the Italian media took all that to say, “I blasted him and that I was trading him and neither one of those things, if you listen to my comments, were true. So once again, and this is, you know, you got to take some of what’s said for what it is. In accurate words, I said very specifically, what I just said. But the media portrayed it differently and that’s just not the case. So the story should go away very quickly with the kid’s clarification and statement that, hey he loves Toronto, loves the fans, thinks the organization has treated him well, has no problem with me, and understands he needs to get better.”
Tim: You put this team in a position where you have plenty of financial flexibility moving forward, and I know a lot of people are looking forward and seeing this labour unrest. Does this handcuff you at all during this offseasn with all this flexibility?
Bryan: “I have to be very careful how I address that whole issue but I will talk about the flexibility. I think that whether we have $7 million of cap space or $17 million of cap space, we are going to be one of the teams positioned well when the new rules come out — and we are going to be under a new set of rules one way or the other. We are hopefully going to be looking at a favorable situation for us, that we have prepared well for this. That flexibility should pay off in the form of the ability to sign free agents and add some veteran pieces that might make some sense for us. Sometimes that flexibility, as you know, can be utilized to acquire players into cap space as opposed to just signing free agents necessarily so you’ve got both options there. And again, It’s a nice place to be to have good young talent. We’re going to be adding another top-five pick in the draft on June 23rd, and then we’ve got the ability to kind of pick and choose who we want to add with that free agent flexibility or the cap flexibility to add a player either by free agency or by trade. And It’s a good position to be in for us.”
Tim: I know often times you pass Brian Burke in the hallways of the MLSE compound. Have you spoken to him about how he dealt with the very same situation moving forward, not necessarily about labour unrest and all that, but just how you deal with it as a GM going into some uncertain terms.
Bryan: “We talk quite frequently about a number of things that, again, it’s just hallway conversation, sometimes it’s more specific and the point is about various topics, but there’s not a whole lot of similarities. I think we’ve got two completely different situations with respect to what the NBA is currently going through, and again, I can’t really talk about all of that, but we’re well positioned and well prepared and I’ve been through three of these various new collective bargaining negotiations, so this will be my fourth in terms of adapting to whatever the new rules are.”
Sid: Bryan, What do you make of this crop of prospects coming out next month?
Bryan: “We like where we are at five. I know that sounds kind of funny moving down from three. Obviously at three you control your destiny moreso than at five, but I’ve said the silver lining there is that we get a little bit less of a cap charge for the fifth pick which again gives us more flexibility and at the same time, we’re probably going to get a player that has equal or possibly better talent depending on how the draft unfolds at five.”
“And If we’re talking about adding a point guard, one of the three point guards will be on the board, whether it’s Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, or Kemba Walker. Kyrie Irving is likely to go number one, so that puts two solid point guards on the board in front of us if that’s what we choose to address. If you’re talking about the bigs that are involved, you’ve got the kid Valanciunas who is Lithuanian and playing over in Lithuania, you’ve got Kanter who was supposed to play in Kentucky this year, he’s the Turkish young man that we’re actually going to be seeing work out and interview in Chicago here on the fifth and sixth of June, that’s another one you’ve got to look at. Again not a big body of work to deal with because he’s only played a few competeitive games in the last couple of years, the Hoops Summit being one of them, and then playing some Turkish league games prior to that. You’ve got the unknown and high-riser Bismack Biyombo, who played in Spain this year. From about January on, he had some good solid minutes. He ended up playing the Hoops Summit this year, not last year, had a huge impact with the triple double, 10 plus blocks. And then there’s a couple of players I call three-fours in Jan Vesely and Derrick Williams, that Derrick Williams could be the second pick in the draft – could go #1 even. But At the end of the day, I think we’re going to get a really good player.”
“And there’s a couple of other players I would put as sleeper picks, in addition to maybe Biyombo. We like Kawhi Leonard a lot, who played at San Diego State. He’s a really intense player, he kind of plays a little bit like a Ron Artest type – doesn’t play with a lot of energy per se but he plays with a lot of intensity and it’s a quiet intensity. He rebounds the ball exceptionally well, he’s a lockup defender and does quite a bit that we need right now — he addresses some of the things we need.”
“And I have to tell you I was so impressed with Brampton, born and raised, Tristan Thompson, or raised in Brampton at least. Great interview, he looked good in the brief workouts that we saw. I’m really impressed with him. Probably a little bit of a duplication to Ed Davis, and again we’ve said that we’re going to try to take the best player for our team which is a combination of talent and position or talent and need — but at the end of the day we’ve got to improve the talent on this basketball team. So I’ve given you probably 6 or 7 or 8 names there, that’s probably where we are.”
Sid: No, I think that was 50 names. You look at a lot of draft boards Bryan, and I know the internet is what it is, but a lot of people don’t think Brandon Knight will be there when you guys hand in your pick. And the one knock on Kemba Walker, if you go that route, is size. How much of a hindrance do you think that’ll be?
Bryan: “I’m impressed with Kemba Walker for a number of reasons. First of all, we’re a very guard-driven league right now. You’ve probably seen or witnessed what we’ve seen over the past several years that there are a number of things happening in terms of guard play. He’s not a big strong guard who is going to be able to defend necessarily with strength, but he’s going to be able to defend with quickness, the quickness and keeping guys off-balance. You’ve seen the impact that an Aaron Brooks has had when he was playing at his best in Houston. We’ve always tough times dealing with what we call ‘waterbug-type guards’.
“Kemba is a guy that can literally put a team on his back as you’ve seen him do at the NCAA level and score at will, score when he needs to. He’s a bit of a streaky scorer but he’s a guy that can will his team to win. Taking it to another level, to the NBA level, is going to be difficult. But you know again, with the kind of talent he has and the kind of confidence that he has, I think there’s going to be a good transition there for him. Is he ultimately going to be a starting point guard in the league? I think time will tell. Is he going to be a combo guard that can play a couple of positions? Time will tell, but at the end of the day, the guy’s got a future in the NBA because of his talent level. And I think again when we look at improving our team, we got to look at all sorts of things and that’s one of the reasons why we would have him on our draft board and consideration there.”
Tim: How much stock do you put into a body of work? Obviously with Kemba Walker, most people in North America have been able to get a great look at what he does and how he’s won at the NCAA level. When you see a guy like J. Valanciunas, who is coming out of Lithuania, and seems like a real intriguing prospect and the type of kid that might have a huge upside. How much stock is in that body of work and how much you’re able to see?
Bryan: “I think it’s helpful. The guys that we get the best reads on, are the ones that we can follow from a young age, when we first see them now legally at the Hoops Summit and the McDonald’s All-American game and things along those lines. There’s the Jordan Classic down in Charlotte, used to be staged in D.C.; those are the first looks per se. We obviously know the names and we see them and we get to watch them not just playing the game, which is a little bit of a showcase, all-star type setting, but you watch them compete in practice for a week leading up to those games. That ‘s where I first saw Amare Stoudemire, back in Phoenix, and I saw him at the McDonald’s practices at New York for 2 – 3 days and I was just really impressed with everything I saw. Then he came to a workout and saw something later, but I didn’t have the benefit of watching his high school games, the benefit of watching a lot of workouts, he didn’t go through much of the preseason stuff or the predraft stuff. But he certainly had no college games to read. If you look at a guy like Kemba, we’ve seen this guy now in the system for several years and even some USA basketball participation in the Summers. There’s a lot to judge a guy on and you know and realize that the kid’s a winner and that’s why he’s going to be a high pick in this draft.”
Sid: Jim Calhoun has produced a few beauties down through the years definitely.
Bryan: “Yes, he has. “
Sid: Let’s bring it back closer to the team a little bit. Is Jay Triano the Coach of this team next year?
Bryan: “You know, Jay and I are in the next days and coming weeks, close to sitting down a lot and talking about several things. We haven’t really had a chance since the end of the season to do that. A lot of different things flying, including the uncertainty of my position; that’s now resolved, and now that Chicago is out of the way, we can actually sit down and take a breath here in Toronto. We’ve had a chance here to already share some moments, we’re going to be continuing going forward. I think that it’s fair to say that Jay has done a great job with this team to date. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, as I said in the post season press conference, in terms of playing the young players and developing the young players that need that time and progress. You look at the progress that DeMar DeRozan has made and Ed Davis made in his tenure this year as a rookie even though he came off of that injury. And you look at Amir Johnson putting up career numbers, those are positive things.”
“The things that we probably haven’t improved upon and need to improve upon are things like defense and we need to sit down and talk and really break it down — why aren’t we doing better at defense? Why, at times, are we not moving the ball and having more efficiency on offense? We really want to talk philosophically about those things and I think that at the end of the day, we know enough about each other that there’s probably a good understanding. But we really have to talk in earnest and discuss this particular season, talk about the progress that’s been made with Jay at the helm, and then decide whether or not he’s the right guy to move forward. So I’m going to defer until I’ve actually carried that out and work through some of those things with Jay. And again, at some point in the next few weeks, we’re going to know whether or not that’s the direction we’re going.”
Tim: You know some have described you as being restless with the amount of changes that have gone on with this team. How much do you think that has affected the ability to carry out those other tasks that Jay has been posed with? (Tim read in a column that some felt Bryan was restless)
Bryan: “Well, look, I want to win in the worse way. Obviously we took a little bit of a step back talent wise this year and that was certainly something that you can look at me for, with respect to the Chris Bosh decision to leave, with the sign and trade that took place, and the creation of further cap space flexibility, bringing in younger players, and things like that. But we’ve got a couple of things to look at. We had a year where you could argue the talent was there, and you can argue that we have the talent here but just didn’t have the experience. And it’s a different level of talent perhaps, but we’ve got to look at overall, the production of this team and it’s not necessarily in wins and loses. It’s the whole atmosphere, the environment, the direction of the team, the responsiveness of the team, the performance of certain aspects on the game, those are the things that we all look to talk about and address. As far as restlessness, I’m restless when we’re not winning. I’m restless when we are winning. I like to be proactive in certain situations, again, I think you might have read something where someone described me as restless. I don’t think I’ve been restless, I’ve been very calm through this process of trying to determine whether or not I was going to be here – that was first and foremost. And now that that’s resolved, I can really sit down in earnest and focus on the other aspects of the management operations that need to be addressed, the basketball operations, the decisions that need to be made to go forward. And restlessness doesn’t necessarily translate into something bad. I think it’s something good when you’re constantly proactive and constantly working to make the basketball team get better and the performance better because if anything, the fans are the ones that should be restless because they want a winner. And I don’t blame them for that restlessness.”
Tim: And just to be clear, I just said that “some” have described you as restless. I read that in a column and that’s where I was getting it from.
Bryan: “No problem, you know again, I thought you may have been talking to my wife. I’m restless all the time.”
Tim: Well, maybe you should learn Italian.
Sid: Finally Bryan, we’ll end on this, Congratualtions on the extension and I have to wonder, when do you get some “you” time this summer?
Bryan: “Well, again, I’ve always said this job is year round and I like it that way. I think it’s important to get some down time, but generally when the work is done, that’s when there’s a time to take a breath. And this year, I don’t necessarily forsee that happening. We’ll see, we’ll see how the discussions go leading up to June 30th.
Wow, I could have listened to Tim and Sid chat with Colangelo for another hour. They boys did a great job. Thumbs up for getting him on the show, especially with all the Raptors news in the headlines lately. Let’s hope for good things in the future.