The speculation factory wasted little time putting Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on the hot seat. His name, in fact, was thrown onto the hypothetical chopping block before his team even submitted to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, certain executives around the league believe Toronto will move on from Casey following their second-round letdown:
Executives around the league anticipate that the Raptors will make a coaching change, though there are no guarantees after Toronto’s success this regular season. In addition to the candidates being interviewed by other teams with openings, the Raptors have three internal candidates—assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian, and G League coach Jerry Stackhouse—that could be promoted to head coach. Nurse spoke with the Suns and Hornets about their head-coach vacancies, according to multiple reports, and is widely considered by executives to be one of the best assistants in the league. Nurse, not Casey, is credited with leading the charge in changing the offensive system. If Casey is told to take care, Nurse should be the favorite for his position.
This report feels a bit premature. Yes, the Raptors are capped out, and changing the head coach is the easiest way to instill meaningful pivots in that type of situation. And yes, Casey was also out-coached by Tyronn Lue in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. He was still searching for answers in his frontcourt by the time Game 4 rolled around; he went with Lucas Nogueira at the 5 to close the first half of Monday’s loss, even though he hadn’t played at all during the series.
Still, Casey has maximized the Raptors’ current personnel. He oversaw a stylistic shift this season, And even if you don’t believe the Raptors as a squad deserve a grace period after undergoing such a wholesale face-lift, it’s tough to believe he should be the one to fall on the sword. Maybe he will. That’s how things work in the NBA. But it makes far more sense, it seems, for the Raptors to explore their on-court options, via the trade market, before hoping a new face gets something more from a nucleus Casey has already tapped out.