The Raptors fired Dwane Casey on Friday.
Wednesday, he was named a finalist for Coach of the Year.
This looks awkward, but it fits Toronto’s stance. Even in his press conference following firing Casey, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said he believed Casey should win Coach of the Year and said he hopes Casey wins it.
Toronto can think both Casey did a good job this season and another coach would be better for the team going forward.
It’s a high-risk gamble to fire a coach so successful.
Sometimes, it pays off. The Warriors fired Mark Jackson then reached a far higher level with Steve Kerr. The Pistons fired Rick Carlisle then won a title and returned to the NBA Finals with Larry Brown. The Cavaliers fired David Blatt
Sometimes, it doesn’t. The Grizzlies didn’t get any better by dumping Lionel Hollins. The Bulls firing Tom Thibodeau for Fred Hoiberg didn’t solve all their problems. The Pistons firing Flip Saunders for Michael Curry hastened their downfall.
The Raptors aren’t content with just winning a lot in the regular season and stumbling in the playoffs every year. They were willing to fire a demonstrably good coach to raise their ceiling, and that’s fine. That doesn’t mean they must pretend the fired coach was no good.
Still, this looks funny. It’d be even more awkward if Casey actually wins Coach of the Year and accepts the award June 25 while coaching elsewhere or unemployed.