Monday , Sep , 29 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Bryan Colangelo and Toronto’s season tied to Andrea Bargnani and Jermaine O’Neal

Right now, Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo can do no wrong. His Raptors are relevant, competitive, and turning a tidy profit for ownership, the controversial Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. The upcoming season is key for the NBA’s former executive of the year, though. Expectations are huge and, fair or not, Colangelo is somewhat exposed after hedging his bets on two players …

He is the golden boy. An executive who came, saw, and conquered one of sport’s toughest media markets.

Right now, Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo can do no wrong. His Raptors are relevant, competitive, and turning a tidy profit for ownership, the controversial Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The upcoming season is key for the NBA’s former executive of the year, though. Expectations are huge and, fair or not, Colangelo is somewhat exposed after hedging his bets on two players.

Two years ago, the Raptors drafted Italian teenager Andrea Bargnani first overall. So far, results have been mixed. His rookie campaign was promising, but the forward struggled in 2007-08 with shooting and bigger opponents.

Bargnani still has some time. However, he must justify Colangelo’s faith as the first overall pick. Complicating matters is the fine play of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. Toronto selected Bargnani ahead of Portland’s star duo at the 2006-07 draft.

This summer, Colangelo dealt T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal. Once upon a time, he could carry a contender, posting 20-10 numbers. Injuries have set-in and the post isn’t cheap, pulling in 40 million dollars over the next two years.  

This risk could pay off for Toronto. Chris Bosh will carry the Raptors, not O’Neal. The veteran only has to support ‘CB4’ by blocking shots, rebounding, and protecting the paint. Reports indicate the former MVP candidate is looking great in workouts.

"Watching the guys work out, it’s just amazing how much more confidence they have, having Jermaine O’Neal back there,” said coach Sam Mitchell. "I’m telling you man, just watching them work out, he was blocking shots and talking. 

"The thing I love about him, not one time has he talked about ‘Give me the ball.’ All he’s talked about is playing defence and rebounding." (Toronto Star, Doug Smith)

He also fits the club’s long-term finances. O’Neal’s contract expires after 2010, giving Toronto cap room to re-sign Bosh (if he opts-out early) and add another superstar.

This is an important year for Colangelo. The Raptors, behind Bargnani and O’Neal’s resurgence, either fulfill expectations or some shine comes off the golden boy upstairs.

What do you think of Toronto’s off-season? How will they do next year? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits.