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12 May 2018, 11:26 | Kristopher Drake
Raptors fire head coach Dwane Casey
Masai Ujiri pulled off the sports version of that on Friday, but with an extra twist.
On Tuesday, Casey was named coach of the year by the National Basketball Coaches Association, an award voted on by the NBA's head coaches. In a hockey-mad town, it guaranteed that the Casey firing would be down-page news. It also comes after the Raptors were swept out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very hard but necessary step the franchise must take", Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. Casey is widely considered to be a top contender for the NBA's own Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by members of the news media and will be announced June 25.
Players have yet to officially weigh in on the firing of Dwane Casey, but team president Masai Ujiri said when he called up his all-star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to tell them the news, they were emotional because of the bond that has been built up between them and Casey.
Despite the Raptors' very big regular-season success in 2017-18, however, it's a move that was made after being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs. It's a tough way to win.
"There's nothing in particular that coach Casey did wrong, but I think it was time for this to happen", Ujiri said.
Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey reacts in the second quarter during game five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors' historic season came after Ujiri called for a "culture reset" last off-season. He said he went with general manager Bobby Webster to speak with Casey in person.
"All of them are with us for now", Ujiri said.
"I feel it didn't get us there, but I think it's credible".
Still, Lowry was dejected by the team's playoff performance, calling it a "wasted year" after a third straight elimination at the hands of James and the Cavs. Lowry said the Raptors still hadn't adjusted to playoff basketball, and needed to learn how to change things on the fly. Under Casey, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the postseason in a franchise record five consecutive seasons.
Casey bristled a day later at any suggestion that the Raptors had been outcoached, and while it's true the star players didn't quite say that, there was certainly a suggestion of that in their words.
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