New Raptors head of all things basketball Massai Ujiri has not been shy about making changes — gone is VP of basketball operations Ed Stefanski, some other front office people and a number of scouts. Ujiri wants his people in place.
What is not changing is the coach.
Despite a rough season last year, Dwane Casey will be back at the helm of the Raptors, reports the Toronto Sun.
Casey, according to league sources, has already spoken at length with Ujiri and (Raptors CEO Tim) Leiweke and would seem safe from any purge. He has a year left on his contract.
However, it looks like Casey’s staff is going to get an overhaul. A lot of assistant coaches.
Casey enters the season as a lame duck under new management, but one that likely can save his job if Toronto makes the playoffs. And that’s a reasonable goal.
In Casey’s first season with the Raptors (2011-12) the team showed some real development. Yes, they won just 23 games but they were actually a middle-of-the-pack NBA defense that made teams work for wins. They played hard. They just didn’t have enough healthy talent to score regularly, so it was a heavy dose of DeMar DeRozan and Leandro Barbosa.
But this past season things flipped — they became an average offensive team but regressed on defense. They won 34 games and had the mid-season of Rudy Gay to deal with, but the team didn’t defend and hustle quite the same way.
Giving Casey a third season makes some sense — if he can get them to defend well again, plus find ways to use Gay more efficiently on offense, the Raptors can step up into playoff contention in the East. That may be the goal Casey needs to meet to get a new contract.