March 29, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Tim Leiweke talks with David Beckham before the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center. Thunder won 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Suddenly the suits are news - Tim Leiweke is The Man at MLSE

I don’t like asking you, Gentle Reader, to spend a lot of your precious time reading about Toronto Raptors’ front-office activities. We all enjoy what’s happening on the hardwood, not the boardroom. However, I can’t ignore the bombshell news of the arrival of Tim Leiweke as Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment’s [MLSE, which owns the Raps, the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, MLS's Toronto FC, and many more properties] new CEO.

Apr 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phil Jackson (left) and Jeannie Buss stand with Los Angeles Lakers former player Shaquille O’Neal.

There are so many more questions than answers today. Why did Leiweke, so hugely successful in building up Phil Anschutz’s sporting properties, step aside to take the MLSE job? Will Leiweke extend Bryan Colangelo’s contract as Raps’ President, or kick him to the curb? Will the ground actually shift at the Air Canada Centre to such a degree that the Raps replace the Maple Leafs as MLSE’s top priority? Will Leiweke ask Phil Jackson to join him to help run the Raps as a sort of eminence grise? There’s no way at the moment to do much more than speculate on a few of these questions, so here goes.

Phil Jackson, the architect of 11 total championships in Chicago and with the Los Angeles Lakers, boasts the greatest track record of any NBA coach in history. If he wants to join Leiweke in Toronto, he should be welcomed with open arms. All the noise about how players don’t want to join the Raps would instantly cease. For purposes of this article, I’m going to assume the Zen Master is coming.

Colangelo will be retained, but only if he accepts Jackson as Special Adviser (or some such hokey title). Whether BC will accept that implied rebuke, or resign in protest, is beyond my ken; if I had to guess, I’d say BC, who really wants to see his rebuild of the Raps prove successful, would accept Jackson’s participation. Someone else, like Maurizio Gherardini, will lose the game of Musical (Executive) Chairs. How much high-priced help do you really need, BC? It’s not a matter of money (MLSE is drowning in it), but more a sense that if Phil Jackson is first among equals, how many other advisers should be at the table before it’s all too much.

Apr 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey talks to his team during a break in the action against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Chicago 97-88. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dwane Casey gets about 30 games next season to prove his worth. I believe Jackson when he says he doesn’t want to coach anymore, but he might accept an interim role if the Raps get off to another dismal start and Casey gets the chop.

The NBA announces that the 2016(?) All-Star Game will be played in Toronto. Tim Lieweke, satisfied that the Raps are in good order, turns his attention towards moving an NFL franchise north of the U.S. border for the first time.

We’re nowhere near finished on Tim Lieweke, but this post is done. Consider it Part One of an series with an unknowable number of entries. What is knowable is the fact the Raptors are suddenly sexy.

What impact do you think the arrival of Lieweke will have on the Raps? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.




Tags: Bryan Colangelo Dwane Casey MLSE Phil Jackson Tim Lieweke Toronto Raptors

  • Raptors18

    The fact that his main focus is to improve the raptors and get them to the playoffs is huge, and that he has ties with phil and is looking at putting him in the gm role! Nothing to do with the players at all but the raptors future suddenly looks so much brighter. If Leiweke brings Phil Jackson home, we can now have the ability to have off season succes, get rid of some of these ridiculous contracts and get some ball players in toronto. This could be the be the best thing for the raptors franchise!

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi: I would be surprised if Jackson’s arrival meant Colangelo’s dismissal. However, Lieweke’s hiring is proof that anything’s possible – who predicted his arrival? No one that I follow or speak to….
      I think the scenario I’ve suggested, with Jackson as Colangelo’s top adviser, is the most likely. And I agree with you that all of this activity may have a highly positive outcome for the franchise. How could we not benefit by having the counsel of Phil Jackson?
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Raptors18

    I really think Colangelo’s time here is done, either way Lieweke and the MLSE will most deffenitely take a long in depth look at Colangelo’s track record, which is terrible. Leiweke is new, he does’nt really know Brian and from the looks of all the playoff-less seasons why would you want to keep him here? New gm, new coach, young team, i can’t see a better time to make this move then right now, especially when the candidate’s name is phil jackson of all people. I’m all in for saying goodbye to BC, looking forward to a huge off-season, i would like to see bargnani finally head ot of town and with phil possibly in the office a chance at getting talent in free agency and not signing injured players who barely produce to 3year 30 million contracts like landry fields.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi again; I’ll be posting an examination of Bryan’s draft record tomorrow. As for Andrea, I called for him to be traded to the Lakers, along with Fields. Two teams trading headaches, and hoping for the best – sometimes that’s all you can. BTW: Fields’ contract is for 20M over 3 years, not 30. Still too much.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Raptors18

        No problem brian, yes 18.7 over 3 years, but he was apparently picked up to attract steve nash on 33 million over 3 years, which in my eyes is also very stupid, really glad he decided to go too LA! I feel BC is affraid to trade bargnani because he is worth just about nothing with his contract, looks kinda bad when you trade your 1st overall pick because he’s a goat to the city of toronto and noone really wants him, i really dont think LA would take bargnani