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.
Doc Rivers almost left the Boston Celtics last season, but after coming within a quarter of an NBA title, and with the core of his team back, he decided to return and make another run at it.
But will he walk away this summer?
A lot of people in the coaching fraternity think he will, reports Mark Stein at ESPN.
Although Celts president Danny Ainge and the veteran trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were able to lobby Rivers last summer to come back for one last run together, pessimism reigns in Boston when it comes to successfully lobbying him again. Word is Doc is determined to free himself up to see his Duke-bound son, Austin, after work commitments prevented him from watching his other three children as much as he wanted to see them compete in various sports.
Rivers has always been sincere about wanting to spend time with family, this isn’t the usual façade around a coaching change. Rivers might take a year or three, then return in the spot of his choosing.
But walking away from these Celtics would also be hard for Rivers. His contract is up. If he does leave Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank and legend Kevin McHale are the logical choices to succeed him.
Stein also lists other coaches who may be leaving (Phil Jackson, although that is basically a done deal) and those on the hot seat including Rick Adelman, Keith Smart, John Kuester, Jay Triano, Paul Westphal and others. Oh, and Erik Spoelstra if the Heat have an early playoff exit.
Every professional sports league carries with it an abundance of irrelevant records and streaks. The combinations of milestones available can create a new record on a whim (The first to 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 3,000 steals, 2,500 free throw attempts, 3,000 turnovers, and 50 technical fouls!), and most “active streaks” stand as equally arbitrary.
A perfect example: last night ended the Toronto Raptors’ streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer at 986. That’s a lot of games, and a long time to be tabulating an irrelevant stat. What, exactly, is that record supposed to indicate? That the Raps were a good three-point shooting team during the duration of those 986 games? True in some cases, less so in others; predictably, Toronto’s effectiveness from beyond the arc waxed and waned throughout that stretch. Really, it’s a freak occurrence furthered strictly by the desire to keep an irrelevant streak alive. The streak’s inexplicable prevalence has made it a bit of trivia, and some players and coaches throughout the Raps’ recent history have undoubtedly made an effort to keep it alive.
Well, Jay Triano is having none of it. Here was the Raptors head coach’s response when asked about the ending of the streak at today’s practice, via Holly MacKenzie of The Basketball Jones:
“Yeah, you know what? With about a minute to go in a close game I thought, ‘You know what, we should probably figure out how to hit a three rather than try to win this game.’”
[And how did he find out that the streak was over?]
“I found out after we were walking off the floor. Somebody yelled at me that I should be fired because we didn’t make a three. Somebody yelled at me, that’s when I went, ‘Did we not make a three? OK, well,’ I mean, honestly, you know what, I think the organization should be very proud of the streak that it had, but for us to go into a game thinking that we should try to make a three and for us to have a depleted lineup with guys like [Leandro] Barbosa and [Linas] Kleiza and [Jose] Calderon not in uniform, I mean those are guys that are going to sometimes step up and make them for us. You know what, it’s a record and that record did not help us climb one spot in our race to try to get better as a team. It’s one less thing we can put in our media notes. Alright? So that’s about the extent of that streak being broken.”