SBD/May 23, 2012/Franchises

Franchise Notes

In Buffalo, Mark Gaughan notes the Bills "got a stamp of approval from the NFL on Tuesday to finalize a new five-year agreement to play games in Toronto." The decision came in a vote of the NFL's nine-member Int'l Committee, which "reviewed plans for the Bills to continue playing one regular-season game a year in Toronto's Rogers Centre" through '17. The original five-year deal between the team and Rogers Communications "runs out after this season." Both the Bills and Rogers "repeatedly have stated a desire to continue their partnership, and a completion of the deal is expected soon." Other NFL owners "are happy to approve a measure that increases the Bills' revenue" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/23).

ON THE CLOCK:'s Shaun Powell wrote parting ways with former Magic GM Otis Smith "was a tougher and more emotional decision" for CEO Alex Martins and ownership than the decision to fire coach Stan Van Gundy. Smith was an "Original Magic who played for the organization and until the end was a loyal man loved by all." Rival GMs "raved about Smith's integrity and honesty." The relationship between Smith and Martins "went back to 1989" (, 5/21). Meanwhile, in Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes the Magic need to "put a clock" on C Dwight Howard and "alert their aloof superstar that he has until the NBA draft in late June to make his decision" on whether to stay with the team. Otherwise, he will be traded "anywhere the Magic can get the best deal." Bianchi: "This Dwight drama has gone on far too long. Everyone is sick of it -- the fans, the media, the organization, probably even Dwight" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/23).

HELP WANTED: In Portland, Jason Quick notes the Trail Blazers have "gone one year without a general manager." Now the franchise "needs a voice" and "a vision." Currently the team is led by President Larry Miller and interim GM Chad Buchanan, who are "being asked to do more than they were hired to do, and more than they are probably qualified to do." As a result, in the year since former GM Rich Cho was let go, the club has "taken a giant step back." Quick: "The trick is finding the right GM who can develop a long-term plan. ... But really, how long does this take? The Blazers are nearing double figures in candidates who have interviewed. And no matter what some national writers will argue, this is an attractive job" (, 5/22).
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