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.
Andre Drummond is a terrible free-throw shooter…except, apparently, when he’s shooting from the other free-throw line. Monday night against the Raptors, Drummond cut Detroit’s deficit to five at the end of the third quarter with this three-quarter-court heave at the buzzer:
Now, if only he could work on his accuracy from his own free-throw line.
Not a lot has gone right for the Nets this season, but an impressive clutch shot by seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson gave them their 14th win of the season on Monday. With time expiring, Johnson banked in a long three-pointer to put Brooklyn up 105-104 over Denver and secure the victory:
Johnson had 12 points on the night.
For about a week, word has circulated throughout the NBA that George Karl’s days in Sacramento were numbered. They’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, and players have more or less checked out on him. Remember, it’s only been a year since the Kings unceremoniously ousted interim head coach Ty Corbin to bring Karl in, which came on the heels of their puzzling dismissal of Mike Malone in December 2014.
Now, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the Kings have made the decision to let Karl go:
The decision itself isn’t surprising—it always seemed to be a matter of “when,” not “if” Karl would be fired. But the optics here are not good. If everybody knows it’s coming, it makes no sense to leak that the change is going to happen hours or even days before it’s made official.
The report of the Kings’ decision on Karl comes on the heels of a concerning bombshell Rajon Rondo dropped following Sacramento’s 120-100 loss to the Cavaliers on Monday night.
Via the Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Jones:
Sports Illustrated‘s Jake Fischer further reported that only three players indeed showed up on Monday morning:
That’s a bad look for everybody involved. An optional shootaround is more or less unheard of in the NBA, and if only three players bothered to come, that’s an unignorable sign that the team has quit on Karl.
Since he came into the league, Karl-Anthony Towns‘ offensive footwork has been unusually advanced for a rookie. He showed off his impressive moves again on Monday night, getting to the basket around Luke Babbitt with this spin: