Raptors' turmoil could hurt personnel hunt, Carlisle says

Thursday, April 8, 2004 - Page S4

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TORONTO -- All the front-office uncertainty that has engulfed the Toronto Raptors this season will make it hard for the National Basketball Association club to find a new coach should they fire Kevin O'Neill, according to Indiana coach Randy Carlisle.

"It would be difficult for a top coach to look at this situation and be able to honestly say it would be attractive after what's transpired here over the last three weeks," Carlisle said

before last night's game against the Toronto Raptors. "It's amazing to me the things that have happened here, I'm still dumbfounded by it."

After what has been a dismal NBA season, the Raptors made the first of what is expected to be several front-office moves last week when Glen Grunwald, the team's senior vice-president and general manager, was fired.

Grunwald and O'Neill, the rookie coach he hired last summer, had not been on talking terms for several weeks. With the team in the hunt for a new general manager, O'Neill's status is also felt to be rocky at best.

Carlisle, who is a good friend of O'Neill's, left little doubt whose side he is on as far as the Raptors' situation is concerned.

"This franchise has proven over the last three weeks that they're undeserving of someone of Kevin O'Neill's integrity and convictions, in terms of what he stand for as a basketball man," said Carlisle, who has led the Pacers to the best record overall in the NBA this season.

Carlisle was asked if he felt Toronto's image problem would make it hard for them to hire a new GM.

"There are plenty of good people and I think a lot of it will depend on how much power that person is going to have, if that person is going to be able to run basketball and have the decision-making power," Carlisle said. "Then it's an attractive job.

"But if it's going to be a political quagmire, I don't see anybody worth their salt wanting to come."

Carlisle said that, for a franchise to be successful, it helps if your coach and general manager are, at the very least, on friendly terms.

"It makes all the difference in the world," said Carlisle, "These guys are basketball people; these guys have played in countless numbers of big playoff games and won championships and been MVPs in playoff series; these guys know what basketball at the highest level is about.

"They understand the intricacies and nuances of chemistry, the importance of having unconditional support for their coach, and what that means. That's why it's no accident that teams with those types of people are successful.

"I think everybody knows what needs to happen for a franchise to be successful -- it's up to this ownership conglomerate to be able to make that happen."

(the real question is who the hell is Randy Carlisle?)