Iavaroni, English join Raptors

Alex English is staying with the Raptors as an assistant coach. (Sun Media/Debbie Holloway)

Alex English is staying with the Raptors as an assistant coach. (Sun Media/Debbie Holloway)

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:54 PM ET

Jay Triano and Marc Iavaroni first met seven years ago in Treviso, Italy.

As fate would have it, Triano was about to board a plane for Treviso yesterday just hours after announcing that Iavaroni had joined his coaching staff as an assistant.

Neither could have envisioned a reunion with the Raptors, but Iavaroni will provide Triano with a unique perspective.

While many had expected Iavaroni would somehow surface in Toronto, his appointment represents an important step for a franchise that simply required a new voice and direction.

Iavaroni has been associated with some of the NBA's brightest minds and is highly regarded in basketball circles.

His tenure as head coach in Memphis was short-lived, but Iavaroni is certain to give the Raptors a shot in the arm.

"Passion and a real sense for detail," Triano began when asked to list some of the attributes Iavaroni will bring to the coaching table. "He is unbelievably detailed with his approach."

Iavaroni will be spending a lot of time on the defensive end, where the Raptors were exposed far too often this season.

Assistant Alex English has been retained and will continue to focus on the offensive end, while Micah Nori, the team's director of scouting, who at times provides input from the bench, and Eric Hughes, who serves as a development consultant, will each be returning.

Assistants Mike Evans and Gord Herbert will not be back.

Triano is holding out hope that former Raptors guard Alvin Williams will be brought on board, but he is prepared to move forward with his current staff if something can't be worked out.

Should Williams join the team, his role will be as a development consultant and not necessarily as an assistant.

In these trying economic times, a lot of NBA teams have decided to go with a more streamlined coaching staff.

The way Triano sees it, the Raptors might be able to accomplish more with less bodies on the bench.

Iavaroni's presence alone makes the Raptors a better team. Philosophically, they are now on the same page from all levels.

No one can say with certainty who will be lining up on the floor this fall, but the Raptors will push the ball and will defend. Fast-break opportunities will be initiated by making stops.

"I could never have predicted that I'd be here, but the opportunity was too good to pass up,'' said Iavaroni, who has strong ties with Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo and senior advisor Wayne Embry.

"I've always had a high regard for Toronto. I've always been drawn to Bryan and the way he is driven and I really like what Jay is trying to emphasize here.

"He wants to emphasize defence and he wants to keep the uptempo (offence). And he wants to be a great coach."

WORKOUTS

On the same day Triano shed light on his staff, the Raptors were working out five draft-eligible players.

No one should put any meaning into who is invited because the lead up to the June 25 draft is full of head games and misinformation.

For the record, guards Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) and Jrue Holiday (UCLA) and forwards Alade Aminu (Georgia Tech), Damion James (Texas), Goran Suton (Michigan State) and Chase Budinger (Arizona) worked out for the Raptors yesterday.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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