Sadly we all are starting to realize that hopes for the post season are over for the Toronto Raptors. As I stated in my column, Toronto Raptors Must Look To The Future, changes must be made now. The biggest change that has to occur immediately is the firing of head coach Dwane Casey.
Some might say, why fire him now? Why not let Casey coach out the rest of the year and then let him go. There are two simple reasons to immediately relieve the coach of his duties. First of all, the team needs to come together and find its identity. That can’t be done with a lame duck coach. No one will respect a coach who they know won’t be around after this season.
Also if you wait until the summer to fire Casey and then look for another coach, you will have already missed the boat on getting a quality replacement. All the good coaches go fast. So fire Casey now and replace him with the coach that will take the Raptors into the playoffs. If that coach can’t leave his current position yet, just agree to bring him on at the end of the season.
The franchise needs an established coach who has experience in the league as a head or assistant coach. Therefore, college coaches are out of the question. Yes, not even Louisville Cardinals’ Rick Pitino. That narrows the search down to current NBA assistant coaches or past head coaches who are sitting and waiting for another shot.
At the top of everyone’s list is Brian Shaw. Shaw is the assistant coach of the successful Indiana Pacers. He was rumored as the next Los Angeles Lakers coach before the whole Mike Brown/Mike D’Antoni situation. Shaw is a player’s coach who knows the Raptors market well. He will be a head coach with some team next year so why not ask permission to discuss an offer to come north after the season. The team could fire Casey now and have a coach for the interim. Shaw would be my first choice.
Stan Van Gundy is waiting patiently in the wings for another chance at coaching. Rumors have him being black balled by the league and its television partner ESPN for comments about how he was fired from the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy can do wonders with a team full of average players. He has coached in the finals before and is well versed in Eastern Conference tactics.
Another candidate is former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks. He is currently an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also spent time as the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. Cheeks has plenty of experience dealing with all types of attitudes and egos. He is ripe for another chance.
Marc Iavaroni, currently with the Los Angeles Clippers, also has experience as an assistant coach with the Raptors. He was passed over onc,e but may not be again. He understands the franchise and how to deal with the media in Toronto. He would come in with tons of experience and has coached Rudy Gay with the Memphis Grizzlies.
My fifth candidate for the job is one that is totally out of the box. Jeff Hornacek is an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz. He made a successful NBA career out of hard work and perseverance. He didn’t have out of this world talent, but he made good with what he had. That is exactly what the Raptors need.
Those are of my five candidates for the position of head coach. I understand that Toronto may not be the brightest spot for a coach to come to, but if you look at it another way it may be the best spot. The NBA glare is not on the Raptors. Expectations are always low and basketball is nowhere near the top sport in the city. The media aren’t as ruthless as they are in other cities. This might be a chance for one of the five to make his mark. The roster has changed and now all they need is a coach that understands what needs to be accomplished to win every night.
Follow Shahab on Twittter @SchoolboyShebe
Add Shahab to your network on Google