We’ve been telling you this was coming since last week, everybody except your mom has been telling you Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey would coach the Raptors since last week. (She kept telling you not to forget Father’s Day.)
Now it is official, Casey is the man in Toronto.
Bryan Colangelo — the GM that built the seven-seconds-or-less Suns before going to the Raptors — has changed the course of this team with this hire. Defense is now the priority in Toronto. For the past two seasons the Raptors finished dead last in the league in defensive efficiency, Casey is supposed to change that.
Casey replaces Jay Triano, who led the Raptors to just 22 wins last season. Triano is a good guy. Triano could not get the Raptors to play defense. This was a wildly undisciplined group on that end of the floor. For two seasons.
Casey has some real work ahead of him to change the defensive culture in Toronto, because the roster is not defensive minded. Dallas had veterans that would do what it takes to win, Toronto has Andrea Bargnani. More than schemes and focus, the Raptors needs some better defensive players, too. But a real forced commitment on that end of the floor will help.
Casey was 53-69 during a year and a half with the Timberwolves from 2005 to 2007. He started his second season 20-20 when he was fired, the Wolves went 12-30 the rest of the way (that roster had Kevin Garnett then the next best player was Ricky Davis). The last two seasons the Wolves couldn’t win 20 games when they had a full 82 games to try.
Casey been a defensive minded assistant in a few places now and had success, including in Dallas during these playoffs. He got a head job he deserved. But this is going to be a real challenge for him.
You can question if he got as many wins as one could out of the talent given him (which wasn’t much). You can’t question that the Raptors have been an abject disaster defensively for two years running.
That has led to Toronto not picking up the option on coach Jay Triano’s contract for next season.
He’s being let go as coach but will remain with the team as a “special assistant to the GM,” according to that GM, Bryan Colangelo. The move was announced during a team conference call Wednesday evening.
“I have great respect for Jay Triano both as a person and as a basketball mind,” Colangelo said in a released statement. “Jay deserves tremendous credit for developing our young players this past season and our most recent win-loss record does not appropriately reflect his many positive contributions to this organization.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but after almost three full seasons of observation and evaluation I believe that bringing in a new voice as head coach will accelerate the progress we are looking to make in the coming years.”
Colangelo, who built the Euro-heavy roster that has struggled so much, just got a very healthy extension. So what does Triano’s firing mean? That someone had to be the scapegoat, maybe. Or maybe we will see a shift to a more traditional roster.
As for who is next, good question. Look for the names being discussed elsewhere — Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, of course Rick Adelman — to get mentioned. It really depends on what the Raptors are trying to build. This team needs a new identity.
None of us have been able to figure out what the Raptors want to be. But whatever it is, the focus needs to be on starting to play some respectable defense.
There’s some serious roster renovation that needs to go on in Toronto, but it looks like Bryan Colangelo is going to be the architect.
According to the National Post, Colangelo has agreed to an extension in principle to remain as the general manager of the Raptors.
The Raptors president and general manager has confirmed to The National Post that he has agreed in principle to a multi-year contract extension. His five-year deal, signed in 2006, was set to expire on June 30th.
Him getting to stay had become a power-play struggle amongst the factions of the Raptors ownership. The Raptors are owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and right now the majority owner of that is the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Reportedly the teacher’s representative on the board — Glen Silvestri —had it in for Colangelo.
But the teachers’ pension is getting closer to selling its share of Maple Leaf Sports. (Yes, it bought a larger stake last week but apparently that is just the first step in the sale.) Because of that, they are not standing in the way of the desire of the rest of the board to bring back Colangelo, the Star says.
The deal has yet to be formalized but seems to be set. Now the attention coach Jay Triano hanging, as there is a team option for his return that has to be picked up by June 15. If they want him back. He has been there two years and had the worst defense in the NBA two years running, but Colangelo trusts him. One of the odd choices Colangelo has made, like drafting Andrea Bargnani, the Amir Johnson contract and… well, it’s a fairly long list. There’s a reason Colangelo will be representing the Raptors at the draft lottery.
As the Star pointed out, the Raptors have a 44.6 winning percentage since his arrival. Not great, but better than the 39.2 percent from before his arrival.