We couldn’t wind up our look at the 2013-2014 Toronto Raptors without considering its head coach, Dwane Casey.
Dwane Casey began his coaching career in 1979 following four fine years as an undersized point guard at the University of Kentucky, his home state. He was hired as an assistant at his alma mater after graduating with a Business Administration degree, but resigned in 1988 following an investigation of a recruiting scandal. Casey was exonerated of all charges, and later settled out of court a defamation suit he brought against a freight company. He commenced his NBA career as an assistant with the Seattle Supersonics, who won four division titles in his tenure. Casey also served as the coach of the Japanese National Men’s team, helping them qualify for the FIBA World Championship tournament in 1998.
After enduring what I’m sure he considered a longer than necessary apprenticeship, Casey got his first NBA head coaching job with Minnesota in 2005-2006. His team finished 33-49, but seemed to be turning the corner next season. The Timberwolves were a surprising 20-20 when Casey was abruptly fired. His replacement, Randy Wittman, provided a 12-30 record for the rest of ’06-’07. Well done, T-Wolves management…I’m sure your fans were thrilled with the results of that coaching change. Casey returned to assistant coaching, and won a championship ring with Dallas in ’10-’11. The Mavericks’ head coach, Rick Carlisle, pushed hard for Casey to get another NBA top job. Carlisle’s efforts were rewarded when Casey was offered the Raps’ gig by Bryan Colangelo, who had decided (correctly, in my view) that Jay Triano’s coaching wasn’t working any longer.
Casey enters his third season with the Raps, having produced a record of 23-43 in the strike-shortened ’11-’12 season, and 34-48 last. While a career mark of 110-160 (.394) won’t get you in the Basketball Hall of Fame unless you buy a ticket, it’s not disastrous either. We don’t know details of Casey’s relationship with new GM Masai Ujiri, but it can’t be a poor one. New GMs will, more often than not, bring in their own coach, but Ujiri is leaving well enough alone.
Can Dwane Casey keep his job in Toronto? And how do we know a coach is doing a good job? We’ll examine those questions, and peer into the crystal ball, in Part II of this “In Focus” tomorrow.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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