TORONTO -- When the Toronto Raptors signed President & General Manager Bryan Colangelo to a two-year contract extension, many believed it meant an extension was on the way for his personally chosen coach, Jay Triano, to remain at the helm.
But after a 22-win campaign, the seventh head coach in franchise history was handed his walking papers.
To say Triano's dismissal was unwarranted is highly debatable, considering Toronto's record over the past three seasons was an abysmal 87-142. During his tenure, the Raptors never made the playoffs and failed to attain a winning record in any season.
When he was appointed the full-time coaching job following an interim stint where he replaced Sam Mitchell mid-season in 2008, it seemed as if the 52- year-old was the right choice. He had been in the organization as an assistant since 2002, making familiarity with players a non-issue. Further, his ties to the Canadian National Team gave him some valuable experience on a large stage.
Having been a career assistant possibly hampered his status amongst players, as it often appeared he was being tuned out by some of the more recognizable faces on his roster.
There will be those who claim the firing was unreasonable due to the makeshift roster Triano was dealt following the disastrous Chris Bosh saga, along with the injuries that plagued the club this past season and the general youth of the team.
Yet, those observers must have overlooked the numerous times the Raptors were in a position to win late in games and failed to convert without any semblance of a successful plan in order. Or the insubordination that came to light in a road game in Golden State, when Julian Wright declined Triano's request to enter a blowout and the coach's reaction was, surprisingly, as nonchalant as Wright's refusal.
It seemed there were nights Toronto was strategically at a disadvantage, whether it was Triano's fault due to a lack of preparation or the players inability to execute is irrelevant, as all too often in sports, it's the coach who is the first to feel the pinch of failure.
Though Canada's first born coach in the NBA will no longer patrol the sidelines, he will stay on with the team to act as a consultant.
His first piece of advice may be to assist Colangelo in determining who should fill his recently vacated position.
There was much thought that current Raptors assistant P.J. Carlesimo would be the next man in line for the job, but the GM made it rather clear the next hire would be from outside the organization.
The Raptors may have to hurry to find a replacement, as Detroit and Golden State are also without a bench boss and will be on the hunt in the coming weeks. Already, two new head coaches were named this offseason, with Mike Brown and Kevin McHale finding new homes in Los Angeles and Houston.
Most fans will want to hear the big name applicants like Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy as the new coach in town, but there are a plethora of current assistants across the league that would make for a fine choice.
Before revamping Boston's defense in Tom Thibodeau's absence, Lawrence Frank proved he was a capable coach during his time with the New Jersey Nets. After being overlooked by their current club, Brian Shaw and Chuck Person of the Los Angeles Lakers are also on the market and looking to move up the ladder from assistant to head coach. Possibly the most coveted assistant is currently still sitting on the bench, as Dwane Casey and his defense-first approach have helped the Dallas Mavericks reach the NBA Finals.
With a number of qualified coaches on the market, Toronto will have no shortage of suitable candidates to choose from.
As the NBA Draft approaches -- just three weeks away -- the Raptors will need to make a decision soon if they have any hopes of welcoming the newest Raptor with his future head coach.