As first reported by Doug Smith on Twitter and confirmed shortly thereafter by Matt Devlin, Jay Triano will not return to coach the Toronto Raptors next season. He’ll be retained as a “special assistant” to President/GM Bryan Colangelo, whatever that means.
I’ve asked Holly MacKenzie to provide a longer take on this since she knows him personally and is more qualified than I am to write about this topic. This move is only surprising to me since I assume this team will probably stink next season whoever is coaching them so I’m not sure bringing in somebody new is going to make much of an immediate difference. On the other hand, if team management doesn’t see him as the man to lead this team into contention — an opinion I’m pretty sure most Raptors fans share — then I suppose it makes sense to bring in somebody who they believe is better suited to develop the young players. Regardless, Triano will remain with the team as its token Canadian basketball guy until he inevitably gets hired as an assistant coach on another NBA team.
I’ve never had a particularly strong opinion on Triano one way or another. As much as Raptors fans have liked to take shots at his coaching acumen, he seems to be well-respected by many of the top coaches in the sport. Perhaps he’s a really good “practice coach” who is decent with X’s and O’s but not really suited to be the general who leads his charges into battle. I suspect he’ll join Kevin O’Neill and Sam Mitchell as fired Raptors coaches who will probably never get another head coaching job in this league.
Triano’s “re-assignment” is sure to ignite a flurry of speculation about his replacement, but something tells me that this won’t even be a consideration among Raptors brass until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is worked out. Call me a cynic, but I can’t see MLSE hiring a new head coach until they know for certain when there will actually be games to coach. I also wouldn’t be surprised if P.J. Carlesimo is promoted into the job on a sort-of-interim basis with the intent to bring in someone new for the 2012-13 season. Of course, this won’t stop Raptors fans from screaming, “HIRE RICK ADELMAN!” as if there’s any chance he’d want anything to do with this mess of a team at this stage of his career. I’d love MLSE to surprise me with a sexy replacement hiring, but I’m not holding my breath.