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Under new management

Colangelo's Suns roots have Raptors fans hopeful

Posted: Monday August 14, 2006 11:24AM; Updated: Monday August 14, 2006 5:36PM
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Only a few months into leading the Raptors, Bryan Colangelo brought a sense of good luck by winning the draft lottery.
Only a few months into leading the Raptors, Bryan Colangelo brought a sense of good luck by winning the draft lottery.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Few NBA teams have undergone as much upheaval this offseason as the Toronto Raptors, who have cleared out their front office, welcomed the draft's first overall pick in Andrea Bargnani and added a slew of overseas prospects to their bench. Documenting the tumult has been Scott Carefoot, who has been covering the team on his RaptorBlog since 2002. Carefoot has kept a measured, informative tone throughout all the Sturm und Drang that has marked Toronto's fall from a potential Eastern Conference powerhouse to a lottery laughingstock.

With the Raptors seemingly about to turn the whole thing around again, we asked Scott about the team's prospects.

SI.com: New GM Bryan Colangelo is up top, basketball sage Maurizio Gherardini is in town, Bargnani is (hopefully) in the weight room and Chris Bosh is coming off an All-Star season. Is coach Sam Mitchell this team's weak link? And if the Raptors get off to a dodgy start, how long before Colangelo finds his own guy to coach?

Carefoot: Considering that Sports Illustrated polled NBA players in March and discovered that Mitchell is considered to be the worst coach in the league, it's safe to say he's a weak link. Having said that, I think Mitchell is a built-in excuse for a mediocre first season, so I won't be surprised if he lasts to the end of his contract at the end of this season. At that point, Colangelo can go after Phoenix assistant Marc Iavaroni.

SI.com: This team figures to have plenty of salary-cap flexibility to work with over the next year or so. How would you like to see them use it? Spend it all on one guy (like the Bulls), build with solid pieces (like Denver) or hope that some team gets fed up with its superstar and dumps him for a batch of spare parts (like, uh, New Jersey)?

Carefoot: It remains to be seen how much cap space the Raptors will have, depending on what happens with Morris Peterson's and T.J. Ford's expiring contracts. I don't think Toronto will have room to make serious bids at big-name free agents in '07, but I'm a big Anderson "Sideshow Bob" Varejao fan -- so I would love to see him in a Raptors uniform, grabbing rebounds and diving for loose balls.