With Casey out, Ujiri finally puts himself into the line of fire

Arnold Nichols
May 12, 2018

With DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka all locked up with huge contracts through at least the 2019-2020 season, the franchise could easily be stuck in playoff purgatory centered around a core that, to this point, has been lackluster in the postseason under Casey.

But the Raptors, whose franchise-record 59 wins during the regular season raised expectations that they would challenge for the National Basketball Association title for the first time in their 23-year existence, were once again outmatched by their post-season nemesis.

Despite the Raptors' 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.

"After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very hard but necessary step the franchise must take", said Masai Ujiri. "As a team, we are constantly trying to grow and improve in order to get to the next level", Raptors president Masai Ujiri said.

"There's nothing in particular that coach Casey did wrong, but I think it was time for this to happen", Ujiri said.

According to the Canadian Press, "Casey was sacked two days after winning the Michael H. Goldberg coach of the year award, which is handed out by the National Basketball Coaches Association". A media panel voted separately for the NBA's coach of the year award, which will be announced June 25. Under Casey, the Raptors succeeded in securing four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons.

LeBron James' blatant ownage of the Toronto Raptors has been the result of a complete dissection of the team from the ground up. Although it seems unfair to fire Casey and not give him another year, the blunder of being swept and losing 10 straight playoff games to the same team invites unwanted questions.


"I was in the gym when I watched him on the floor against Toronto tell Patrick Patterson where he was supposed to go on the play they had called out of a timeout late in the fourth quarter", Griffin said as a guest in The Bill Simmons Podcast.

Ujiri had little to say about who his next head coach might be, but said he would be "open" to considering a wide range of potential candidates. "We'll look everywhere. I'm not ruling out anything".

DeRozan credited Casey with all of his success while Lowry called Casey "one of the best coaches out there".

"We didn't always see eye to eye, but he let me be me ..."

It won't be easy to replace Casey, the front-facing man of the program for so many years. "That was our goal".

"A lot of folks have run up against Cleveland in the last few years and had the same challenge and it went down the same way", he said.

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