SBD/20/Franchises

REPORT HAS THOMAS LEAVING RAPTORS IN NEXT 24-48 HOURS

          A press conference "will be held no later than
     tomorrow" to announce that Raptors minority Owner and Exec
     VP/GM Isiah Thomas "will be leaving Toronto, regardless of
     whether he decides to take a television job with NBC,"
     according to Craig Daniels of the TORONTO SUN.  Daniels
     writes that NBA Commissioner David Stern "asked Thomas
     yesterday to remain with the club for the next 24-48 hours
     ... so the Raptors could clean up certain financial matters,
     such as the closing of financing for the Air Canada Centre." 
     Yesterday, Thomas "retired to his home" in Detroit and
     referred all calls to his agent.  Thomas: "I want to be as
     professional and classy in this matter as possible.  I don't
     want to be in the position where I have to look people in
     the eye and lie, so you have to understand there are some
     things I can and can't say right now." Team Assistant GM &
     VP/Legal Affairs Glen Grunwald "appears" to be "the leading
     candidate" to replace Thomas as GM  (TORONTO SUN, 11/20).  
          STRAINED RELATIONS? In Toronto, Michael Grange writes
     that everything "surrounding the latest ownership drama ...
     remains unclear," and that "the rift between Thomas and
     [Raptors Majority Owner Allan] Slaight is no closer to being
     repaired and has likely widened as each side regards the
     other with a growing measure of distrust" (GLOBE & MAIL,
     11/20).  Also in Toronto, Doug Smith reports sources who
     said that Slaight "provided some of the money Thomas has had
     to pay out in the last couple of months to fulfil
     obligations as a minority shareholder."  One source: "I
     think Isiah has a bit of a cash squeeze."  Thomas' reps
     "refused comment" on the speculation.  Smith adds that
     Slaight "has positioned himself perfectly to assume Thomas'
     share" of the team, and sources say that Slaight "signed off
     on an agreement ... that puts in place a syndicate to
     finance" Air Canada Centre (TORONTO STAR, 11/20).
          TALKING TOUGH ABOUT ZEKE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons
     writes, "The latest squabble for Thomas is just another in a
     series of personal-agenda controversies that have marked his
     life in basketball.  His career has been a testimony to
     conflict.  Name a place, name a person, and there is a story
     to be told.  Too many stories" (TORONTO SUN, 11/20).

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