Dwane Casey finds himself in hot water after getting swept by the Cavs in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Dwane Casey is not a bad coach, but it has become clear that he is no longer the individual that should be coaching the Toronto Raptors.
Earlier this season I wrote that the Raptors success in the playoffs last year bought Casey a year of job security. I’m hoping I’m wrong. We have seen this unpreparedness from Casey heading into almost every playoff series. The Raptors may have beaten the Bucks, but they opened the series shell-shocked after losing game one and getting embarrassed in game three. Dwane Casey and the Raptors managed to win game two in that series and then rattled off three straight to win in six after the clown show that was game three.
Dwane Casey VS. The Field
Firing Casey for the sake of firing Casey is something I struggle with. Dwane is probably better than the majority of “the field.” It’s also an odd time because coaches haven’t been fired yet. So that shrinks the potential field even more. Some guys the Raptors should look at include Jeff Van Gundy, Sean Sweeney, and Jerry Stackhouse.
Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy has been out of coaching for about a decade but showed interest in coaching the Houston Rockets again. Mike D’Antoni beat him out for that job and isn’t losing it anytime soon. In seven seasons coaching the Knicks Van Gundy had a 59% win-rate and 55.5% win-rate in four seasons with the Rockets. His teams were known for playing hard and being physical. Something the Raptors could really use come playoff time.
Sean Sweeney is unknown by the casual fan. He’s the genius assistant behind Jason Kidd and often helps fool people into thinking Jason Kidd is a viable coach. Sean was with Jason during Jason’s tenure coaching the Nets. Jason made sure he brought him with when he became the Bucks head coach. The experts often credit Sweeney for his work in transforming the Bucks defense into a lethal force. He’s definitely not a sure thing, but Sweeney is obtainable and has potential to be a good coach. If the Raptors hired Sweeney would the Raptors finally figure out how to close out on three-point shooters?
Former players don’t always make the best coaches. Jerry Stackhouse was a player who played hard and didn’t take any nonsense from anyone. He appears to coach in a similar fashion. This past year Stackhouse led the Raptors 905 to a D-League championship as a first-year head coach. Coaching in the NBA is probably a lot more difficult than coaching in the D-League, but everybody has to start somewhere and Stackhouse has started strong out of the gate. The Raptors may have to decide on Jerry Stackhouse as their head coach or risk losing him to another franchise.
Can the Raptors Offense Be Repaired?
President of Basketball Operations, Masai Ujiri, mentioned the Raptors need to change their offensive system. Dwane Casey may be between a rock and a hard place. Casey has been very successful over the last four years during the regular season with a heavy reliance on isolations. He has seemed incapable of diversifying the offense and dialing up more ball movement. Something that has become a requirement for a team to have success in the playoffs. With a new coach, theoretically, the Raptors offense could be less risky than living or dying at the hands of one or two players. It’s still no sure thing that this Toronto Raptors core can adapt, but at the very least they have to try. It may be time for Dwane Casey to start planning his retirement. And hey, the Raptors owe him roughly $12M, so it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to Dwane Casey.