Sam Mitchell, arguably the best head coach in the NBA without a contract for next season, said yesterday that he has, in his mind anyway, grown as a head coach.
This is Mitchell's third season in front of the Raptors bench and the team is having a breakout season, 32-26 on the year and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors haven't made the playoffs since the 2001-02 campaign.
"I don't necessarily think x's and o's wise," Mitchell said, when asked what he has learned as a head coach. "I just think dealing with different personalities, how to manage people. I think that's the key to it all, just managing people, picking and choosing your spots. Sometimes I get pissed off, I don't say a word.
"Because, you know what, the player already knows. I can see it in his face. Maybe last year, I would have (yelled)."
Mitchell won NBA coach-of-the-month honours for January and has been mentioned as a coach-of-the-year candidate. Still, the 13-year NBA veteran doesn't care what the rest of the league, or the media, thinks of the job he is doing.
"The only thing that's important to me is the players in that locker room don't feel I'm the worse coach in the NBA," he said. "Because they're the only guys I have to satisfy. If the guys in the locker room are satisfied, the guys upstairs (in the front office) will be satisfied."
Mitchell gave his players, and his general manager Bryan Colangelo, most of the credit for the turnaround this season.
"I have a very coachable group of guys and I appreciate that," he said. "I'm very blessed to have that. It doesn't bother me what others think outside of that locker room. Because at the end of the day, the only people that are going to judge me other than God, is Bryan Colangelo and the players, and that's all I have to answer to."
Yesterday's snowstorm forced the Milwaukee Bucks to cancel a flight to Toronto last night. The Bucks, who face the Raptors tonight at the ACC, have scheduled a flight for this morning and are slated to arrive around 10:30. However, the morning shootaround has been cancelled.
All-star forward Chris Bosh said that he thinks about competing in the playoffs as a Raptor for the first time in his career, every time he steps out on the court.
"We have high expectations for ourselves," he said. "We want to go to the playoffs, but we also want to go deep in the playoffs. We don't want to be content with just being there."