Raps Coach Dwane Casey Starting to Look Petty

“…if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled…” - P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters 

Loyal friends of this scribe’s work know I awarded Coach Casey the ’11-’12 Rookie of the Year, a decision I’m starting to regret.  Yesterday the Raptors donated James Johnson to Sacramento.  The Raps receive a fig leaf of a 2014 second-round pick, in order to show everyone that it really, really was a trade.  JJ is a defensive force to be reckoned, with great hands and hops.  Offensively, he’s a problem.  His jump shot is bad, but that didn’t stop him from flinging it up time and again.  Regardless, he’s an athlete, and him grabbing a starting role in Kings-town wouldn’t surprise me at all.

If Johnson’s dumping was a one-off,  I could live with it.  Rumours of a spat with Coach during practice flew about in mid-season, and  JJ was benched for 2 games.   JJ has to bow to authority, but isn’t two games’ punishment enough?   And Johnson’s eviction from the Good Ship Raptor is but the latest example of the purge the Coach seems to be leading.   Malcontent Jerryd Bayless’ team option was rescinded, and he signed with Memphis for zero compensation.   (Sonny Weems was also released but in fairness to Coach, since Sonny never played under Casey, it seems unlikely that a vendetta could have been created).

Bayless and JJ could have, and should have, been offered a chance to make the big team, or traded for a meaningful return.  Instead, we have a purge of players who object to their role.   Bayless was well-known for imagining himself to be the starting point guard, and resisting the thought of becoming  a useful backup at the 2.  I don’t blame the kid for resisting the bench; every player should want to be a starter.  Bayless is now at his fourth NBA stop in as many years, so he’s clearly no saint, but that’s not the point.

GMs and coaches of pro sports teams must always view their players in a bifurcated manner.   Management loves its players when they are drafting or trading for them, but must be ready to dump them in service to the higher cause of constant club improvement.  In short, all players are assets, like cash, or draft picks.  I accept that, and I accept that a player who can’t, or won’t, do what the coach asks of him has to go.  But I don’t have to accept players being donated to other teams for no return, because Coach doesn’t like them.  If you have decided a guy must go for disciplinary reasons, you feature him (yes, even in Summer League) at your earliest opportunity.  Then you strike your best deal.  How can dumping JJ and Bayless for a total return of a second round pick in 2014 be considered an adequate return?  What was the rush?

I’ve yet to find anyone who pays big money to go to a Raps game in order to watch the coach, and the Tough Guy shtick gets old fast.   I’m not quite ready to rescind my Rookie award to the coach, but one more charity stunt like these two, and I will.

Topics: Dwane Casey

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  • Michaelis

    I agree with you here 100%  I actually really liked James Johnson’s game… and feel he deserved another shot at starting SF due to his defense (A nice complement to Bargnani and Derozan who’s defensive games are still a work in progress).  This opinion however is not a popular one on Raptors forums as most people seem to hate on JJ due to his tendency to shoot (and often miss) and his petulant attitude in regards to accepting a defensive role.  I have not looked this up but I believe he was among the top at his position for blocked shots.  He has good instincts as a help defender and gets up incredibly quickly to block/contest. 
     
    I was originally disappointed when we traded our late first rounder for him as I wanted us to draft Canadian Corey Joseph with that pick, however, Johnson quickly changed my mind and I became a fan of what he brought to the table.  To then dish him and his very reasonable 2.8 million salary for a second round pick seems like a big waste to me.  I was thinking that this was perhaps a move to free up space at the 3 spot so that we could make a move to land a player like Igudoala or Rudy Gay in a trade (a player who will demand a lot of minutes at that spot) so far though these follow up moves have not come to fruition.
     
    I was thinking a lineup of:
     
    Amir Johnson (with JV eventually taking this spot if he develops nicely)
    Andrea Bargnani
    James Johnson
    Demar Derozan
    Kyle Lowry
     
    with a second unit of:
     
    Jonas Valanciunas
    Ed Davis
    Landry Fields
    Terrence Ross
    Jose Calderon
     
    and then have Linas Kleiza as the 11th man, as there are going to be injuries to someone freeing up minutes.
     
    While no one in the league is going to tremble at our starting lineup I think we would have one of the better second units in the NBA.  Lowry, Bargs and DD would carry the offensive load with the Johnson’s being the glue guys who bring effort and intangibles.  And something tells me that Jose and Fields will play very well with one another as they are both high IQ players. Jose would help to get Jonas involved in pick and rolls with shooters Fields and Ross available on the kick out.
     
    Barring any other changes to the roster I would expect us to look more like this:
     
    Amir Johnson / Jonas Valanciunas / Aaron Gray
    Andrea Bargnani / Ed Davis / Quincy Acy
    Landry Fields / Linas Kleiza / Allan Anderson
    Demar Derozan / Terrence Ross
    Kyle Lowry / Jose Calderon / John Lucas III
     
    Thoughts?

  • BrianBoake

     @Michaelis My first thought is: you clearly know your hoops!   Your analysis of JJ’s defensive skills is bang-on, & exactly why I think we’ll miss the guy.  
    You’re a step ahead of me in terms of your depth chart.  I’m definitely going to do one, but not until late in training camp.   I’m intrigued by the fact you have included Allan Anderson, and not Ben Uzoh, as the third 3.  Is that because you think Uzoh’s spot is gone since we’re going to sign Lucas?   I’ve pencilled in JV as our starting centre, but that’s not a certainty by any means.  You are again right when you mention injuries, which can mess up a team’s plans in a heartbeat.  Remember Garbojosa?  We haven’t been the same since that guy blew out his leg in Boston.  I’m really worried about Andrea; I’m afraid his injury is chronic.  The only way to keep him in the lineup is for Casey to severely limit his minutes, no matter what the game situation.  Paging Ed Davis!  Depth – if we make the playoffs, it will be because of depth.

  • http://adsfadsndoodads.blogspot.com/ jtshoopsblog

    I also agree with you because on paper, it did not make any sense to give up your best defensive player for a second round pick.  Nor does it make sense to just let go of a player who showed potential of being an All Star in five of the raptors games while starting ahead of an injured Jose Calderon.  Idk where all this hate for James Johnson came from.  When he left, the asshole who write for @Raptors Republic bashed him painting him as a dysfunctional player and team parriah.
     
    This guy was the best damn defender on the team and probably the hardest working one on both ends of the floor.  Watch every Raptors game last season and  see whose the man who barrelled out of bounds and into the stands for every loose ball, never gave up on any play, continuously ran on both sides on the floor–that was James Johnson.  I hope what you say is incorrect about Casey because he does seem like a stand-up guy and Johnson actually represented the hard work and grit that he wanted to bring to the raptors organization.
     
    Anyways, if it’s true then Casey is a fraud, like that asshole Sam Mitchel, and like Mitchell, will expose himself as one sooner rather than later.   

  • http://adsfadsndoodads.blogspot.com/ jtshoopsblog

     @Raptors here is the article from that asshole @Arsenalist from  @Raptors Republic: http://raptorsrepublic.com/2012/07/17/james-johnson-eulogy/

  • BrianBoake

     @jtshoopsblog  @Raptors Hear, hear.  I don’t like throwing rocks at the Coach, but it’s impossible for me to believe that BC would throw JJ & Bayless overboard on his own.  The impetus had to come from Dwane, and that’s worrisome.  JJ may have been a pain in the ass, but you should be able to deal with that when a guy hustles like he did (as you so correctly point out).  

  • BrianBoake

     @jtshoopsblog    @Raptors   Thanks, I’ll have a look.  

  • Michaelis

     @BrianBoake That’s pretty much exactly it, provided Calderon remains on the roster heading into the season, and provided we do pick up Lucas III,  I don’t see there being room for a 4th PG in Ben Uzoh.  Although Uzoh strung together some nice games (including that triple double) he doesn’t really have any 3 point shot, and perimeter shooting is a need that Casey has pretty much outright declared that Colangelo needed to address this off-season.  I heard that we were trying to get a look at Xavier’s Tu Holloway in summer league, however he removed himself from our summer league roster just before they were officially declared and now we are in pursuit of Lucas III.  That speaks volumes to me that Uzoh is not expected to be in the mix.
     
    I do remember Garbajosa, and miss him sorely… Despite not being overly athletic or even a great shooter his high IQ, toughness and selfless play made the entire team better every time he stepped on the court.
     
    I have the same worries about Andrea… Although I have mixed feelings about Bargs as a Raptor… It’s true he is a great offensive talent and a matchup nightmare with his ability to stretch opposing bigs away from the painted area yet I feel as though he is never going to be a true “winner” in the NBA, whether due to injury woes or simply lacking the mental toughness to elevate his game to that next level that is needed to win come playoff time (provided we ever get there that is…).  I still feel as though the ball movement becomes a bit stagnant once it makes it into his hands.  Perhaps this is merely a function of the team that has surrounded him thus far as he has needed to carry much of the offensive burden on his own.  Much as was the case when Chris Bosh was our key guy…  If he is to be successful I think he would need to be paired with a beast in the front court, ie: an Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard type and these guys are rarer and rarer in todays NBA.  Call me a traditionalist, but I like my seven footers to rip down a healthy number of boards.  My hope is that Jonas Valanciunas can develop into this “beast” type player and complement Bargnani’s game but I am expecting him to be still quite raw this year (seems to have a difficult time avoiding foul trouble and staying on the court) and needs to add a lot of weight and strength as he grows into a man. 
     
    As for Allan Anderson, I don’t remember now where I read it, but I did see a recent statement from Bryan Colangelo claiming that the Raptors would be resigning Anderson to fill out the final roster spots.  I think the idea behind this is again to add shooters.  It seems the gameplan for Casey/Colangelo this year is to balance our new found defensive “pound the rock” and grind out wins mentality with a more potent offense.  Lowry and Fields have reputations as being both tough defenders and good shooters (granted I have not seen a whole lot of either of them personally, very few Rockets or Knicks games are televised here in Nova Scotia).  Our draft pick Terrence Ross is also supposed to be a tough defender and good shooter. Ross has had a bit of a rough summer league thus far in terms of shooting percentage but I expect that that will improve when he joins the Raptors and is not the primary scoring option.  Jose will get this guy some nice looks I’m sure.  I think the long term plan is to load this team up with players who hang their hat on their defensive games and can still shoot the ball.  For this reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Demar Derozan were to be packaged and traded for an Iguodala or Rudy Gay type.  While Demar is a good scorer, he is not a great shooter and doesn’t rebound/steal/assist/defend very well considering his athleticism.  I like Demar a lot, however, and am not sure I would want to see a trade like this happen, but when I really look at the numbers I think Iggy or Gay would make us a better team while providing us with a true SF and relieve us of our current logjam at the 2 (Derozan, Fields, Ross).  If we are to give significant minutes to both Jose and Lowry one of them will need to play a few minutes at the 2 as well.

  • Michaelis

     @jtshoopsblog  @Raptors I read that too… A year ago when I started avidly following Raptors Republic, Arsenalist posted a new article every single day of the off season.  I enjoyed always having new content to read and came to really enjoy his writing style (a nice combination of wiiticism and basketball knowledge) but it seems as though he has become quite jaded lately and has soured on the team a bit.  Especially the guys we part ways with.  His criticism of Johnson was way off the mark and the same can be said of his article about Jerryd Bayless when his offer was rescinded.  It seems now he just wants to badmouth and crack jokes while forgetting a lot of the good things that these guys tried to do for our franchise.

  • Michaelis

     @BrianBoake Also Brian, I want to apologize for my harshness the very first time I posted on your site here, it had more to do with me having a bad day than anything else and I was a little out of line.

  • Michaelis

     @jtshoopsblog *witticism

  • Michaelis

     @jtshoopsblog Pretty sure that’s a real word haha

  • http://adsfadsndoodads.blogspot.com/ jtshoopsblog

     @BrianBoake Sam Mitchell, if you remember, did the same thing and look what happened to him.  maybe BC is giving DC enough rope to hang himself the same way he did Mitchell.

  • BrianBoake

     @jtshoopsblog Wow.  This article is about an inch away from character assassination.  What did JJ ever do to this Arsenalist guy?  Thanks again for forwarding; I plan never to click on a piece by this guy again.

  • BrianBoake

     @jtshoopsblog I’d say that if BC has soured on Casey, then the Colangelo era in Tdot is well and truly over.  Triano was a stopgap coach, but Casey is joined at the hop to BC.  This could get interesting.  I’ll do some nosing around, and will let you know if there’s any fire to go with this smoke.

  • BrianBoake

     @Michaelis Apology accepted.  I’m glad you came back to the site, and I look forward to continuing our discussions.  You’re clearly an astute b-ball observer, of which there’s never enough.

  • BrianBoake

     @jtshoopsblog *hip

  • Cal Vicious

    Your blog/site is garbage. You’re a moron, there is nothing wrong with Casey, he’s a great coach and obviously Johnson was a problem and he had to go.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.boake.14 Brian Boake

      There’s nothing “obvious” about Johnson’s trade at all. No explanation of any substance was offered. As to Casey, re-read my first sentence. If the site is garbage, & I’m a moron, then you shouldn’t come back.

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