That doesn’t mean Casey did a good job coaching this past season — the Raptors revamped their offensive style, played faster, moved the ball, Casey got their Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to buy in and adapt, and the team won a franchise-record 59 games. They were the top seed in the East.
The National Basketball Coaches Association — the association of NBA head coaches — announced Wednesday that Casey has been voted Coach of the Year by his peers.
“The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award for the top NBA Coach as voted by his peers is one of the most meaningful in all of pro sports,” said Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, president of the NBCA. “Dwane Casey once again maximized the Toronto roster to achieve the top record in the Eastern Conference. Congratulations to Dwane on this prestigious recognition.”
Other coaches receiving votes were Brett Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Quin Snyder and Terry Stotts. Notice that Boston’s Brad Stevens is not on that list.
This is the second year the coaches have voted on this awards. The NBA’s official Coach of the Year award (voted on by select media members) will be announced at the NBA’s televised awards event June 25. Casey will likely be in the top three in that award and could win it as well.
None of this is going to save his job.
After this latest loss, there is a sense that something needs to change in Toronto, and that feeling is not going to go away once the emotions from the playoff loss subside. Roster changes are not out of the question, but also would be difficult — Jonas Valanciunas has value as a big man and a reasonable contract, but there are not other teams out there looking for a more traditional big like him right now (to get teams to take him another player, a young talent they like, will have to be attached to the deal). Would GM Massai Ujiri break up the DeRozan/Lowry backcourt? Could he get enough in return for DeRozan in a trade that the Raptors would not take a step back? With the Raptors being capped out they can’t chase name free agents, and in a tight financial market making these kinds of trades will be difficult. Possible, expect to see something, but difficult.
However, changing the coach to help change the feeling around the team is much easier. Which is why Casey may want to hold off on doing that addition off the back of his home for a little while.