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.
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.
Check out the highlights above.
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.
Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.