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.)
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.