Earlier today we quickly discussed how Masai Ujiri’s front office staff is beginning to take shape, and now it looks like his coaching staff will soon follow suit, as Ujiri officially announced on Wednesday that Dwane Casey will be back as head coach next season.
“I’m excited about moving forward and growing this team with Coach Casey,” Ujiri said via press release.
The release also states that “an announcement will be made in the future regarding the club’s assistant coaching staff.”
The news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who paid attention to Ujiri’s introductory press conference, where the Raptors’ new GM said that he didn’t see any reason why not to let Casey continue on in 2013-14, which happens to be the final year of the coach’s contract.
To me, this was the right call. Casey over-achieved in his first year on the job, hurting the Raptors’ draft positioning in the process, but he took a roster that had posted historically awful defensive metrics in previous years and turned them into a respectable middle of the pack defensive team that became known for tougher play and resilience.
Of course, much to all of our frustrations, Casey wasn’t as willing as we all were to give young players like Jonas Valanciunas all of his hard earned minutes on 2012-13, and the team got off to a painfully slow start that essentially knocked them out of playoff contention and relevancy early in the season…again.
I won’t deny that some of Casey’s substitution patterns and rotation decisions last season were frustrating to watch, but it’s also important to remember that once he got back to coaching the team in a style more reflective of his own philosophy, an athletic young roster looked pretty good under his guidance.
Dwane still deserves his share of the blame for the 4-19 start (and even some of the close losses later in the season), but I do wonder how much of that rough start had to do with Casey trying to meet assumed offensive benchmarks set by Bryan Colangelo and coaching outside of his comfort level because of it.
Just some food for thought as we prepare to enter Year Three of the Casey Era.