Dwane Casey back to finish the job for Raptors

Dwane Casey returns to coach the Toronto Raptors next year. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

Dwane Casey returns to coach the Toronto Raptors next year. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 AM ET

TORONTO - File this one under good things come to good men who wait.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had a year left on his contract no matter what the organization’s still-changing front office decided on him.

There are men who would gladly take a year off with pay and bid their former team a fond farewell.

Casey is not one of them.

He came to Toronto looking to take an organization that was stuck in neutral and get it moving again in the right direction.

He did that in his first year. In his second year, for a myriad of reasons that certainly weren’t all his fault, that gear slipped back into reverse, giving back the gains they had made in his first year.

To have the opportunity to get those gains back — and then some — is far more important to a man such as Casey than taking a year off.

Wednesday’s announcement that he would be asked back to finish off the third year of his contract — and potentially earn an extension at the end of it — was by no means a surprise.

The surprise was that it took as long as it did for new team president and general manager Masai Ujiri to determine that this was a guy he wanted guiding his team.

The Raptors will hold a news conference on Thursday to make Casey’s return official.

We’ll give Ujiri a pass on the delay. First, because he got it right in the end, and second because that is the Ujiri way. He’s been on the job for all of 15 days and already his devotion to being impossibly thorough has become his calling card.

Casey’s return will not be trumpeted, as you are reading here, in all corners. There are plenty of basketball geniuses out there who will point to his use of personnel last season as one of his principal failings.

Of course, these are the same people who will second-guess Gregg Popovich for staying too long with Boris Diaw in an NBA Finals, never minding the fact that Diaw had been giving Popovich valuable minutes for the better part of the past two games.

In short, there are always going to be guys sitting on their couches at home who will second-guess and believe they would make the correct play call or the correct substitution every time better than the current guy who mans the bench.

It’s part of the job.

But heading into Game 6 on Tuesday night, Pop was a genius. Heading into Game 7, that genius, if you believe the critics, has now cost his team an NBA title.

Casey is first and foremost a defensive coach. He was brought in to address a team that did to defence what a few of our mayors in major Canadian markets these days are doing to the public trust — namely ruining it.

In his second year, Casey had his mandate changed for him. The Raptors needed to become better offensively. Not only did the offence never fully take off, the defence took a nosedive.

Under Ujiri, Casey will be asked to do what Casey does best.

Much is already being made of the fact that Casey’s coaching staff of a year ago will have a different look when the season tips off in October.

What people are failing to understand is that the old staff wasn’t fully Casey’s choice to begin with. He had some coaches on that staff that not only weren’t his choices, but were counter-productive to the way he prefers to operate.

By all accounts, this time around, Casey and Ujiri have already held extensive discussions to determine who would be the best fits for the Raptors staff. That would be good fits for Ujiri and good fits for Casey.

It’s the way Ujiri operates. It’s inclusive and it makes sure that all of the parts operate together smoothly which is ultimately what will bring a franchise success.

So, second-guess Casey’s return if you must, but while you’re doing that, consider this: Ujiri has come in with a mandate to turn this franchise around. He has been given a five-year contract to get that done. He has already cut a swath through the front office in just more than two weeks on the job.

Would he really hesitate to chop one more name from his management team if he thought Casey was part of the problem?

RAPS ADD TO FRONT OFFICE

The return of the head coach wasn’t the only news on the Raptors front Wednesday.

Joining the club as its new vice- president, basketball management and strategy, is Bobby Webster.

Webster comes to the Raptors straight from seven consecutive years at the league office in New York where he most recently was associate director, salary cap management. He was also part of the NBA team that helped negotiate the current CBA with the players association.

“I am delighted to have Bobby join our basketball operations team,” Masai Ujiri, Raptors president and general manager, basketball operations, said. “His skill set will be valuable in a number of areas, and his experience and knowledge of the CBA and its complexities from a league level will be a great asset to the organization.”

According to a release provided by the team, Webster will take on additional duties including scouting, player personnel and roster management.


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