By Don Collins
The Toronto Raptors have relieved Dwane Casey of his duties as head coach. The team made the move after the sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another year of not advancing past James and company apparently was enough to hand the coach his pink slip. After winning 320 games in seven seasons, I wonder what Toronto is going to do to upgrade from Casey.
Look, I get it, you probably should not get swept by this current iteration of the Cavs, but this feels like a knee-jerk reaction. After posting 59 wins and being the number one seed in the Eastern conference, to fire your coach because his team succumbed to the greatest player of all time is not the course of action I would take. Is it not better to allow the team to learn from this most recent loss? Or is three years of falling to James enough? I don’t cut the checks, but some factors must be examined.
My concern for the Raptors is that they won’t find the greener pastures they are seeking. Recently, several franchises have experienced various degrees of success in replacing a successful coach with a new one to try to reach the pinnacle of the NBA. In this case, I see more of what the Chicago Bulls did with Tom Thibodeau than what the Golden State Warriors did with Steve Kerr.
This is a team that, for better or for worse, must try to figure it out when it comes to LeBron James. They are not swimming in cap space so unless a trade comes, they will have to rely on the duo of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan to figure it out. I’m not too sure a leadership change from the most successful coach in team history was necessary. Allowing continuity to improve a team with a deep roster without clear on-the-court upgrades surely was an option and I wonder why it was not chosen. For the time being, LeBron is still the mental hurdle the group must overcome regardless of who is in charge.
In the past few days, the Raptors surely discussed how they could reclaim Toronto from the vice grip LeBron has on their prospects for a championship. Firing the coach is one way to try and fix the problem and it is common with a lot of teams. A new voice may be able to get better out of the same ingredients, but it’s a calculated risk that could be deemed unnecessary if the new coach experiences a decrease in success.
Casey did a wonderful job during his time in Toronto. His tenure is not defined by failed expectations but rather by exceeded ones. Championship or bust is a reality in the NBA, but that mentality can be the untimely demise of an entire era of a team.