But DeRozan wasn’t the only one Ujiri cast aside en route to last year’s championship.
Apparently, Ujiri and Casey – now Pistons coach – are on better terms now.
Ujiri, via NBA:
I will never, ever forget having to do that with Coach Casey and walking to his office, waking up that morning. Many times I wanted to move it and change it or think that you’re not making the right decision. It was incredibly hard, because Casey is an incredible person and so great to work with.
With Casey, it has gotten so much better now with his family and him.
A couple big “what-ifs?”:
- Would Ujiri have still fired Casey if Toronto traded for Kawhi Leonard first? Nurse was a first-time NBA head coach charged with guiding a team that appeared to have a one-year – but quite-open – championship window. Casey was far more established.
- Would the Raptors have still won the title if they kept Casey? Leonard was the biggest difference-maker for Toronto. Casey is a good coach. But we know Nurse was good enough, and he has only improved his reputation since.
Ujiri obviously doesn’t regret his decision. It couldn’t have worked out any better.
Casey is left with the brunt of those “what-ifs?” and congratulating the Raptors from afar.
It’s not a perfect ending for Casey, but it’s nice to hear he ended his grudge toward Ujiri.
Eventually, DeRozan will probably do the same. Time heals nearly all wounds.