Update: Lowe clarified in an update to his piece:
Toronto might have been one gaffe by Pacers coach Frank Vogel in Game 5 away from bowing out in the first round again, a crusher that would have raised questions about Casey’s job security — even with Toronto holding a 2016-17 option they were leaning toward picking up regardless of the Pacers series, sources say.
These types of mixed signals show why you shouldn’t always take general managers at their word when they give coaches votes of confidence.
Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri on Dwane Casey before the playoffs, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
If we don’t go past the first round, what’s going to happen? Coach Casey deserves to be the coach. He deserves to be our coach in the future.
Casey was coming off an impressive regular season. Toronto won a franchise-record 56 games, and Casey finished fifth in Coach of the Year voting.
But would the Raptors really keep him if they lost in the first round as the higher seed for the third straight year?
I know what Ujiri said. But it’s one thing to like Casey as a coach – I do – and another to watch another first-round upset unfold in front of your eyes. The experience of seeing four losses to the Pacers can change someone’s mind – and reportedly would’ve changed Ujiri’s.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
Toronto might have been one gaffe by Pacers coach Frank Vogel in Game 5 away from bowing out in the first round again, a crusher that would have cost Casey his job, per several league sources.
Of course, the Raptors beat Indiana in seven games, slipped past the Heat in seven games and have beaten the Cavaliers twice in the Eastern Conference finals. That ought to preserve Casey’s job, even if Toronto is eliminated in Game 6 tonight.
The Raptors are at the point where they need a quality playoff coach. For the better part of three straight postseasons, Casey didn’t look like one. He still hasn’t come close to answering all the questions about him, but he has created enough doubt about his postseason proficiency.
Casey has done quality work transforming the Raptors. Unless they’re more certain he can’t get the deeper in the playoffs, they should keep him and give him a chance to try.