Rob Babcock (born c. 1953 in Phoenix, Arizona) is an assistant general manager with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA. He is most notably remembered as the former general manager of the Toronto Raptors. Brothers Pete and Dave are also employed by the NBA.
Babcock has 17 years of NBA management experience. On June 7, 2004, he was named to head the Raptors' basketball operations.
Babcock earned his master’s degree in secondary education and psychology from Arizona State University in 1977. He received an undergraduate degree in 1974 from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and social studies. He then taught briefly at Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, where he also coached the freshman basketball team.
Prior to working in the NBA on a full-time basis, he was head coach at Phoenix (Arizona) College, where his teams advanced to the ACCAC playoffs twice and were the regional runners-up in 1986. He joined the NBA in 1987 as the director of scouting for the Denver Nuggets. He has also held part-time scouting positions with the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Diego Clippers and Indiana Pacers before joining the Nuggets staff.
Babcock then completed a successful tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves after 12 seasons. The last two as the team’s vice-president of player personnel. He served as the director of player personnel from 1994–2002 and two seasons (1992–94) as a full-time scout.
General Manager of the Raptors
Babcock left Minnesota to accept the Raptors' GM position. Raptors star Vince Carter had preferred Julius Erving as General Manager instead. Despite Carter's personal friendship with MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum, the Raptors decided to hire Babcock instead. (Erving has never held any coaching or managerial position with an NBA team.)
Babcock's first move as GM was drafting center Rafael Araujo 8th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft, a widely criticized move from the onset, considering highly touted swingman Andre Iguodala was drafted with the next pick. Araujo's disappointing play fuelled criticism of Babcock. As well, prior to the 2004-05 season, Babcock signed mercurial point guard Rafer Alston to a 5-year deal. The move backfired, with Alston reportedly threatening to retire after repeated altercations with rookie head coach Sam Mitchell.
Babcock's best move may have come through free agency when, in the summer of 2005, he made the move to sign Spanish point guard Jose Calderon. During the 2007-08 season, Calderon was the second most consistent player for the Raptors next to Chris Bosh, averaging over 8 assists and leading the league in assist/turnover ratio. Babcock also signed center Matt Bonner.
On December 17, 2004 Babcock traded star Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first round draft picks. He came under fire from many Raptor fans who described the trade as lopsided. Mourning would never play a game for the Raptors, and shortly after the trade his contract was bought by the Raptors, supposedly due to a career-threatening injury. However, Mourning would later sign with the Miami Heat and subsequently played a major role in their NBA Championship in 2006. The two Williams players, played limited minutes for the Raptors prior to being traded in separate deals in 2006. Toronto's record did improve to an almost 50 winning percentage after the trade. However, the departure of Carter from Toronto opened the door for emerging star Chris Bosh to take the leadership role of the team. As well, trading Carter away removed a large long-term contract (around $15 million per season)). Babcock's successor as Toronto's GM, Bryan Colangelo, took full advantage of the new salary cap room after the 2005-06 season to sign free agents Anthony Parker, Jorge Garbajosa, and Fred Jones.
Another Babcock pick, Joey Graham, who was drafted with one of the picks acquired from the trade with New Jersey, had a minor role on the Raptors as a bench player before leaving the team to join the Denver Nuggets in 2009. Roko Ukic was picked in the second round of the same year, and served as the primary backup behind Jose Calderon in 2008-2009.
Wayne Embry had originally been hired for the 2004-05 season as the Senior Basketball Advisor to Babcock. With MLSE citing a lack of confidence in Babcock's abilities, Embry was elevated to Senior Advisor to MLSE President and CEO Richard Peddie, bypassing Babcock in the chain of command.
In the 2005 NBA Draft, Babcock again defied experts by drafting Charlie Villanueva with the 7th overall pick, a move roundly criticized by analysts. However, prior to being traded to Milwaukee in July 2006, Villanueva played well, if inconsistently, for the Raptors in his rookie season. He earned NBA Rookie of the Month honors in December 2005, scored a rookie-season-high 48 points in March 2006 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and finished as runner-up in the rookie of the year award. Villanueva averaged 16.7ppg and 6.9 rpg with the Bucks in the 2008-2009 season.
Babcock made one other contentious move which would later earn him praise. This was the trading of Alston to the Houston Rockets for point guard Mike James on October 4, 2005. James, who left the Raptors after the 2005-06 season, was widely seen as a selfish point guard, but was nonetheless a significant upgrade over the temperamental Alston.
At the opening of the season, a report suggested Babcock claiming that the team would be worse this year than the last. The Raptors began the 2005-06 season losing their first 9 games and 15 out of their first 16. The team improved in December, but continued to struggle in January.
On January 26, 2006, just a year and a half after being hired, Babcock was fired as the General Manager of the team by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Richard Peddie. Wayne Embry was named GM for the interim, and Bryan Colangelo, the ex-GM of the Phoenix Suns, was later appointed as Babcock's permanent successor.
Shortly afterwards, Babcock returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization as a consultant. Family connections instead of his track record, helped him land this job. On September 14, 2006, Babcock along with Fred Hoiberg were both hired as assistant general managers for the Timberwolves.
- "Raptors hire ex-Wolf Babcock as GM". NBC Sports. Associated Press. 2004-06-07. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Raptors surprise with No. 7 pick in NBA Draft". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2005-06-29. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Raptors fire GM Rob Babcock". Yahoo! Sports. 2006-01-26. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Raptors fire GM Rob Babcock". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-01-27. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Timberwolves Hire Babcock, Hoiberg". The Sports Network. Canadian Press. 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
|Toronto Raptors General Manager
Wayne Embry (interim)