After coming under fire, GM gets fired

Updated: April 1, 2004, 9:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

TORONTO -- Glen Grunwald was fired as the Raptors' general manager Thursday with two weeks left in a second straight losing season in which he clashed with the coach.

Grunwald, Toronto's GM for seven seasons, was replaced on an interim basis by Jack McCloskey, a former general manager of the Detroit Pistons. Grunwald has been with the Raptors since their inception in 1994.

"I think I can help in this situation," McCloskey said. "There has been great fan support, this team has an opportunity to get better.

"We've got to make the draft picks, we've got to make the right choices on a new general manager."

He said the goal is to bring in leaders.

"We didn't make the strides that we thought we would," team president Richard Peddie said. "We're standing here with 30 wins. It's time for someone else to come up with a master plan."

The Raptors have been riddled with injuries for the second consecutive year, but critics claim that Grunwald's plan was flawed. After trading Antonio Davis to the Bulls in December, the Raptors have played without a true center all year. O'Neill has publicly complained about the team's lack of depth and a big man, and Grunwald's job has been in jeopardy ever since.

Peddie said Grunwald will advise the team on the draft, and the new general manager will decide if coach Kevin O'Neill returns.

Peddie acknowledged the tension between Grunwald and O'Neill, who has a year left on his contract.

"There was a conflict," Peddie said. "I don't want to deny there was because you all know there was. It didn't help."

Grunwald added: "We went through a difficult situation."

Peddie said he decided to remove Grunwald after the rift became public last week.

"The decision was already made," he said. "It affected the timing."

Grunwald's contract expires after this season. Peddie told Grunwald of his decision Monday, and allowed Grunwald to decide what date it would be announced.

Fans booed the Raptors after they lost their fifth straight game Wednesday night to drop to 30-44, 11th place in the Eastern Conference. After going 24-58 last season, the Raptors fired coach Lenny Wilkens and replaced him with O'Neill.

"I was still hopeful that things that we had discussed in terms of improving the team could have winded up being a successful situation," Grunwald said.

Grunwald was assistant general manager before becoming GM in 1997 when the club finished the season 16-66. The team improved after Grunwald drafted Vince Carter in 1998, but has struggled since Grunwald re-signed the injury-prone Carter three years later.

In an effort to keep Carter in 2001, Grunwald signed Davis, Jerome Williams, Alvin Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon to lucrative deals that have since hindered the club.

"We re-signed all the guys," Peddie said. "We thought a missing piece was a big man, but it didn't work out."

Information from ESPN Insider's Chad Ford and The Associated Press was used in this report.