Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The easy, cynical approach is to say that Masai Ujiri decided to honour the final year of Dwane Casey's contract as Toronto Raptors head coach because Casey is a tailor-made scapegoat should the 2013-14 regular season go all pear-shaped.

Casey and Ujiri, the Raptors' president and general manager of basketball operations, are aware of the perception. The salve for Casey – if he needs it – is that under Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment doesn't seem scared to wield the axe or have time for dainty political games.

Leiweke, MLSE's president and chief operating officer, had pushed Ujiri's predecessor, Bryan Colangelo, into the land of make-work projects. Colangelo hasn't been heard from since.

Story continues below advertisement

Casey confirmed there will be changes to his coaching staff, and some of the low-hanging fruit has been pruned – a numbers guy here, a numbers guy there, and scout Alvin Williams. Spare the tears. This is what bad teams ought to do. Ujiri and Leiweke are not the Visigoths portrayed in some corners of the media, but neither do they seem like gentlemen searching for scapegoats. More likely they're interested in trying to figure out what levers to pull to put themselves in position for Andrew Wiggins, the LeBron James of Canada, should he elect to come out for the 2014 draft.

Far from being a scapegoat, it appears Ujiri views Casey, rightly, as the type of defensive mind that can build the foundation of a contending team. Players on run-and-gun teams make a lot of money because of the weight of their statistics, and that is not a cost-effective way for a market such as Toronto to do business. Casey came to Toronto with a résumé that stressed defence, and immediately turned the strike-season Raptors into a tough defensive group only to have it undone last season by a panicky Colangelo. You think the Raptors need an identity? They had one until Colangelo overreached.

Casey, whose Raptors record is 57-91 (.385) over two seasons, including the strike-shortened 2011-12 season, did not want to fight old battles, but he did acknowledge that: "Somehow, some way, the word 'playoffs' hit us last year … and put us out of whack.

"As an organization, we wanted to get better offensively, but put too much time in on the offensive side." Then Casey caught himself. "No, that's not right. We put in the time we needed offensively, but at the same time, took a step back defensively. We will get back to that. I promise that. We will get back to a defensive-first mentality."

It was telling that not once on Thursday was Andrea Bargnani's name mentioned. Kyle Lowry's name came up only when Casey was asked, and that was not the case with Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan and, perhaps surprisingly, Rudy Gay, the latter of whom recently met with Ujiri and Casey over dinner.

"Our core guys can score," Casey said, dismissing the notion that the existing roster can't be coached to get the balance right. "Jonas has shown he can be a dominant scorer in the paint. DeMar is a scorer. Rudy is a scorer. We have to surround those guys with tough players.

"But," Casey added, "right, wrong or indifferent, he [DeRozan] and Rudy are going to be guarding the other teams' best perimeter players. So they will have to be our best players defensively as well as offensively."

Story continues below advertisement

Gay has had corrective surgery for his vision and has put on muscle, according to Casey, who suggested Gay was not up to the physical challenge of being a go-to guy following his trade to the Raptors after being a "second or third option" with the Memphis Grizzlies.

This season was a waste, and now it's up to others to decide whether the Raptors tank in an attempt to get into the draft lottery. Nobody knows where it's going, and a few deep breaths will be needed, but the new guy got this move right.

@GloBlair

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies