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.
While Minnesota and Golden State went the route of hiring television analysts, it looks like Toronto may be going the more traditional route of hiring a top assistant coach who has some head coaching experience.
That’s what Doug Smith is reporting in the Toronto Star.
According to multiple NBA sources, the Raptors have narrowed the search for a new coach to two men: Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Boston Celtic assistant Lawrence Frank.
Sources say president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has a strong desire to have a new coach in place as long before the June 23 NBA draft as possible but he cannot even begin interviewing Casey until the Mavericks are finished their NBA final series against the Miami Heat.
Casey is the former Minnesota Timberwolves coach who was pushed out there because owner Glen Taylor thought they should be winning more with their roster (Casey was 53-69), only to learn Casey was getting a lot more out of the talent given him then people realized. Frank was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets and spent the last season as a lead assistant to Doc Rivers in Boston.
Both solid choices. It would be nice to see Casey, a good man and coach who keeps getting close but passed over for jobs, get his chance, though.
Casey or Frank will replace Jay Triano, who struggled to get the Raptors to play enough defense in his two years as head coach of the team.
Almost as soon as news got out yesterday evening that the Toronto Raptors had let go of Jay Triano as coach, the rumors started in New York. Particularly from the anti Mike D’Antoni factions.
Maybe the Raptors would come after him and steal him. After all, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo was the Suns GM when D’Antoni was leading that franchise deep into the playoffs, so…
No. Not going to happen.
For one, Colangelo talked about switching to a more defensive focus. Nobody, not even D’Antoni’s supporters, think he’s a defensive first coach. Secondly, D’Antoni’s agent told the New York Post it’s not happening.
“There’s absolutely no truth to [Mike wanting to go to Toronto],” (Warren) LeGarie said. “It’s amusing.”
According to a Raptors source late last night, Colangelo has no plans to ask the Knicks for permission to speak with D’Antoni.
D’Antoni has not had a lot of talent to work with in New York, and when he finally got some (and had the team playing well) the roster was shook up dramatically mid-season to get Carmelo Anthony.
But next season the pressure is on him — he has talent and it is the last year of his contract. Either he proves he can win with this roster or the Donnie Walsh and the Knicks will look at their options. (No, Phil Jackson is not one of those options.)