May 27, 2016, 10:12 pm
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported late on Friday night that the Raptors and Dwane Casey are expected to “soon open talks on a contract extension now that its playoffs are over.”
It’s never a done deal until it’s done deal, but the Raptors or Casey would be borderline crazy to let this info get out unless an extension was on the way. And by letting this information out on the night of their elimination loss to the Cavs, the Raptors get to claim the momentum from their playoff run and position the decision to keep Casey as an overwhelming positive — and something they were going to do all along.
The reality of the situation is that the Raptors’ playoff run was very bumpy and so was Casey’s coaching performance. But making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, further than any team in Raptors history, and being able to bounce back from the brink were all feathers in his cap. And despite that circular logic of putting out one’s own fire, Casey has a genuine connection with his players and is a good coach.
Whether he can get away from classic coach-killing logic of overplaying veterans, stiff rotations and unimaginative offense remain to be seen. NBA coaching is hard and coaches do learn, assuming they’re not too stubborn. Regardless, the book is still out on Casey’s long-term prognosis as a coach in this league. If you’re going to take a chance on an incumbent coach with a mixed record of success, you do it with a guy like Casey who has respect throughout the league and enough upside to make the bet worth the vig.