On Monday, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend would be heading to Toronto. In addition, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment CEO, Tim Leiweke, appointed rapper Drake as a global ambassador leading up to the event.
In the haze of the announcement, the Toronto Raptors have been hard at work at their preseason training camp. In wake of all the excitement, coach Dwayne Casey has had a break from the media spotlight. In his third season as the Raptors’ head coach, Casey is entering the most important of his career. With a 57-91 record in two seasons, Casey’s .385 winning percentage has not cut it.
A poor start to the season, and new GM Masai Ujiri could consider replacing the Kentucky native. The schedule does not help Casey’s situation, with eight of the first 10 games coming against playoff competition.
However, it is the extended coverage and sheer excitement of the All-Star Game announcement that has perhaps given Casey a little breathing room. Apart from the organisation’s media day this week, it has been the All-Star Game and nothing else.
With their first pre-season game against the Boston Celtics just three days away, it is time to start focusing on what really matters. With a new GM and renewed optimism, the Raptors do not want to add to the five straight years they have missed the playoffs.
It was rumored in the press that the team may choose to tank the season in order to land no. 1 draft prospect Andrew Wiggins. Ujiri appeared to be thrown by the statement and rounded off his comments that this was not an option. Monday will see the start of a big season for not only Casey, but many players with points to prove. The media focus on the All-Star Game may have just been the best thing for Casey and co. leading into the season.