Coaches are hired to be fired and that is now the case for Dwane Casey and the Toronto Raptors. Casey took over for a team that went 22-60 and was on the wrong path. Since then, the team has improved every year and even made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. But now it is time for the Raptors and Casey to go their separate ways.
Building a team from scratch is tough but that is exactly what Masai Ujiri and Dwane Casey did. They built a culture and an identity through great trades and draft picks. Casey was responsible for expectations in Toronto going from “Please God make the playoffs” to “We need a damn championship.”
With fans holding the franchise to a higher standard, Casey, ironically, finds himself on the chopping block for failing to live up to the expectations he created.
This year was the biggest example of why the Raptors need a change of scenery. Ujiri said in his post-season press conference that Toronto needs a “culture reset” and “change of style of play.” The culture reset seems extreme but if your team is satisfied with just making it past the first round then changes are needed.
The Raptors style of play is in need of the biggest change. Relying on one-on-one iso play won’t get wins in today’s NBA. They ranked last in the league in team assists at around 18 a game. The number one team was the Warriors at 30 per contest.
Casey was known as a defensive coach and at times let the Raptors do their own thing. It worked in the beginning, putting up huge numbers and looking elite. But the NBA is a league where teams adapt quickly. They figured out that if you can live with DeMar DeRozan hitting deep twos and shutting down the rest, you have a good chance of winning.
The playoffs saw the negative aspects of the team’s offense. DeRozan had his classic great one game, terrible the next.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 5, 2017
That kind of inconsistency just won’t cut it for championship contenders. A new coach would give DeRozan a fresh start and maybe help him expand his game beyond the three-point line. Casey butting heads with Lowry hasn’t helped the situation and K-Low could always say he won’t be back unless they get a new coach.
Casey takes take too long to implement decisions and the best case is Norman Powell. He played garbage time minutes through the first three games of their first round and it almost cost them the series. After game three, he was a +/- 38 and averaged 15 a game. He is the most athletic player on the team, can guard multiple positions and shoot the three. Despite all that, it took a very desperate move to save their season.
Who would replace Casey? Well, there are a few choices but the most prominent would be Jerry Stackhouse. He’s a players’ coach and just won the D-League championship with the Raptors 905 team. Players all over the association respect Stackhouse and would be willing to run through a wall for the former NBA All-Star.
Masai Ujiri doesn’t mess around and Casey should be on his way out. He did a lot for the once struggling franchise but he was given the pieces this year and failed to convert. He got Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. Ibaka was the stretch four they’ve needed for years and Tucker was supposed to lock down LeBron. All it got Casey and the Raptors was a four-game sweep at the hands of the King.