Sometimes five straight playoff appearances, three straight 50-win seasons, a .573 overall winning percentage and a Coach of the Year award isn’t enough.
The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have fired Dwane Casey after six seasons at the helm, on the heels of a 59-win season and a first-round playoff victory. The decision came only two days after Casey’s peers voted him the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
Statement from Raptors president Masai Ujiri on Coach Dwane Casey’s firing: pic.twitter.com/FT4m0tSfEr
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) May 11, 2018
The Raptors were in a tough position here. On one hand, they want (maybe even need) to shake something up after losing to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs yet again, this time in an embarrassing four-game sweep. If Toronto ever wants to win more than a division title, it probably needs to change something.
On the other hand, it’s easy to feel like Casey firing is little more than turning a coach into a scapegoat. In truth, the Raptors didn’t lose to the Cavs because of coaching, they lost because LeBron James played out of his mind and Cleveland’s secondary players finally woke up. If you want to ding Casey for the sweep, fine. But Red Auerbach’s ghost couldn’t have led the Raptors over the Cavs if he had Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich as an assistant.
Whether or not firing Casey was the right move comes down to two questions: 1. Do the Raptors expect to find someone who is genuinely better than he was? 2. Is there benefit in changing something just for the sake of it?
We might get an answer to the first question soon, especially if Toronto tabs Casey’s successor (G League coach Jerry Stackhouse?) quickly and decisively. As for the second question? Sports fans will debate that matter until long after Dwane Casey has been forgotten.