Raptors lucky to have Carlesimo

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

TORONTO - Not all the deals the Raptors tried to pull off this off-season came through, but not all of them failed either.

One guy the Raptors went after who they did get was long-time NBA coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Carlesimo brings a wealth of both NBA and NCAA coaching experience to the Raptors having been head coach at Seton Hall for 12 years as well as head coaching stints in the NBA with Portland (three years), Golden State (two years) and Seattle/Oklahoma City (one year-plus).

He also has spent five years as an assistant in San Antonio under Gregg Popovich.

All told, he has been coaching basketball for 35 years, the past 16 in the NBA.

Carlesimo brings with him a reputation for sound defensive basketball as well as a no-nonsense approach when it comes to getting things done.

But when it is suggested Carlesimo will take on the role of “heavy” or “disciplinarian” in Toronto, Carlesimo pulls back.

“No, I’m just here to do whatever Jay needs me to do,” Carlesimo said. “We have a nice staff and I’m happy to be working with all of these guys. That (the role of heavy) hasn’t been communicated to me. People have perceptions of people. I think all coaches hold people accountable; it’s just different ways of doing it. When I was younger I was probably not as tactful as I could have been.”

In any event, Carlesimo said holding players accountable isn’t an assistant’s job.

“The head coach is the one who sets the tone,” he said. “Your job is to help the head coach and help the players improve.”

Carlesimo’s thinks this Raptors club isn’t really in need of that type of coach anyway.

“These guys to me — the players I have worked with over the summer and the past few weeks are delightful guys. I don’t see any issues at all. I’ve been involved with some teams, particularly years ago, where handling the players was a big concern or a big part of the job. I don’t think this team is like that. I’m serious. Our guys are delightful. Easy to work with, they show up on time and their attitude has been very good.”

Carlesimo said for now, Triano is just looking for as many opinions from his staff as he can get.

“I think he wants me to tell him what I see and draw on my own experience much like the other guys on the staff,” he said. “The staff is very diverse. Its a very good staff so I think Jay wants — he was very clear on this — he doesn’t want someone to just sit there and nod their head. He wants you to say what you see, make suggestions, agree or disagree and then he’ll say ‘OK, this is the way we will do it.’”

It’s the way Gregg Popovich worked it in San Antonio the five years Carlesimo was with him and the best way he knows how to make sure the team develops.

“He wants you to challenge him,” Carlesimo said. “I haven’t been here this long, closing in on four months, but the thing I really like about Jay and the thing I really enjoyed in working for Pop was he wants to know what you think. Having sat in that chair, you do want that.”


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