Colangelo voted NBA's top exec for second time

Updated: May 14, 2007, 4:55 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Bryan Colangelo is following his father's path, although he didn't pay attention to the weather.

Bryan Colangelo
Colangelo

Colangelo, the Toronto Raptors' president and general manager, was chosen as the NBA's Executive of the Year for the second time Monday. He also won the award with Phoenix in 2004-05.

His father, Jerry Colangelo, won the award a record four times (1976, 1981, 1989 and 1993) after becoming general manager of the expansion Suns in 1968.

"I learned a lot from my father," Colangelo said. "I must have missed the part about going to a warm place."

The Raptors weren't an expansion team when Bryan Colangelo took over on Feb. 28, 2006, but they had won just 27 games the previous season and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight time.

"To me it was about opportunity," Colangelo said. "It was about a situation that I thought was a good situation to go to because there was nothing but upside. It was a chance to really make some difference fast.

"Fortunately for us, a lot of the moves that we made worked out this year and it resulted in us turning around the franchise."

Building around forward Chris Bosh, Colangelo added Andrea Barganani with the first pick in the 2006 draft and signed Anthony Parker and forward Jorge Garbajosa from Europe. Colangelo also swung trades for guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic and forward Kris Humphries.

The revamped roster tied a franchise record with 47 wins and captured its first Atlantic Division title before losing to the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs.

"This award is somewhat bittersweet given that we're not playing right now," Colangelo said. "We've got changes to make. We want to make the roster better and we want to compete in the East for years to come."

Colangelo, who spent 15 years with Phoenix before moving to Toronto, received 20 votes to nine for Houston Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson, who finished second in the voting of 45 league executives.

The award, presented by The Sporting News, comes after Sam Mitchell was honored as coach of the year last month.

Mitchell's contract expires June 30 but Colangelo said talks are underway on an extension. He also said one NBA team has officially sought permission to speak to Mitchell, while another has asked informally about the status of contract talks.

"The response was basically I'm not prepared to release Sam to speak to other teams at this stage," Colangelo said. "It's far too early in the process and we're not at that point yet."

Colangelo acknowledged that the easy part is over in Toronto.

"The fact of the matter is there's a lot of work to do," Colangelo said. "We find ourselves division champions and that's probably a surprise to everyone, but that's not good enough. We want to get to the point where we can advance in the playoffs and build things."

Colangelo pointed to athleticism and more consistency out of the small forward position as areas for improvement.

Colangelo will have less money to spend this summer, and currently is without a draft pick in either round.

"It's certainly going to be difficult to take that next step given the limited resources that we have," Colangelo said. "I don't have $10 million in cap space to go out and grab somebody. We've got to give somebody a compelling reason to come here with the midlevel exemption or manufacture something in the form of a sign-and-trade."

Trading for a draft pick is also a possibility.

Colangelo is already making plans for Bargnani's maturation.

"It's likely that he finds himself playing a lot of five next year," Colangelo said. "Whether he starts over Rasho [Nesterovic] is unknown at this point but you're going to see him playing a lot there."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press