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Random Bucks Speculation of the Day: Bryan Colangelo as GM candidate?


The last time Bucks fans heard from the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, he was reporting on April 13 that local owners were finalizing a deal to buy the Bucks. Remember that? That was a day after Bill Simmons had first broken the story of Marc Lasry and Wes Edens closing in on a deal, and three days before we found out that the New York duo had in fact won the bidding war for the team.

So that's maybe worth keeping in mind when we tell you that Lawrence was again bearing interesting Bucks-related news on Saturday:

The Bucks' new owners, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, are expected to clean house, meaning veteran GM John Hammond's days are numbered. Former Toronto president Bryan Colangelo is on the new owners' radar. The Raptors' Atlantic Division title and good playoff showing against the Nets has done nothing but help Colangelo, as he looks to run a team again.

The obvious follow-up question is whether Lawrence has any more of a clue at this point than Marc Stein, whose Friday interview on The Big 920 suggested that Hammond and Larry Drew would "have a chance" to keep their jobs. On reputation alone you'd clearly trust Stein over Lawrence, but all the speculation we've heard to date about Lasry and Edens' intentions has been so vague that I'm not sure anything is worth banking on. We should know a fair bit more about the new owners' intentions in the coming week, but other than that it seems all bets are off.

And what about Colangelo? Well, the veracity of all these rumors notwithstanding, the currently unemployed former Raptors and Suns GM is an obvious name to at least be linked with the Bucks. For starters, Colangelo was reportedly leading a group that unsuccessfully bid for the Bucks this spring, so he's obviously put some thought into what he would want to do with the organization. He's also the sort of experienced brand name that might appeal to new owners looking for "trained experts" to run the team. And perhaps just as importantly: he's available. As previously discussed, Lasry and Edens were limited in their ability to have official contact with even Bucks employees during the sale approval process, and officially they couldn't interview any other team's employees either. But none of those same limitations would apply to guys currently out of the league, making Colangelo an obvious choice to at least be on Lasry and Edens' "radar." In short, if the Bucks' new owners felt they had to hire someone in their first week, there are a number of reasons to think Colangelo would be on their short list.

As for whether Colangelo would make a good choice to run a team? Well, that part is far more debatable. A decade after emerging as the league's hottest young executive in Phoenix, Colangelo was effectively run out of Toronto a year ago after seven seasons leading the Raptors, ending a tenure that started promisingly (47 wins and the second of his two Executive of the Year Awards in 2007) but ultimately disappointed. That was in no small part due to his apparent insistence on building around the disappointing Andrea Bargnani, whom Colangelo selected first overall in 2006 but struggled to pair with incumbent star Chris Bosh. Colangelo's last stand came in the unfortunate form of shipping Ed Davis and others to Memphis for the ever-polarizing Rudy Gay in January 2013, and a few disappointing months later Colangelo was gone, replaced by Masai Ujiri as GM last May before resigning as president in late June. Colangelo has mostly kept quiet since leaving Toronto, though he did raise eyebrows at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in February when he admitted to attempting to "tank"--i.e. being a rational human being--late in the 11/12 season.

Ujiri subsequently dumped both Bargnani and Gay, triggering what most assumed would be a rebuilding year in Toronto. But ironically those addition-by-subtraction moves only galvanized an otherwise talented Raptor roster; after shipping Gay to Sacramento, Toronto caught fire and went on to win a franchise-record 48 games in 13/14 before falling to the Nets in seven games. I have a hard time believing that Ujiri's success in undoing some of Colangelo's highest-profile moves did anything to help the perception of the latter's work in Toronto, though it should be noted that the foundation of the current Raptor team--DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson--were all acquired by Colangelo. In fact, you might wonder if Colangelo would still be in Toronto had he been more willing to admit his mistake in drafting Bargnani ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge (among others) in '06.