The first order of business that I would have prescribed for the Toronto Raptors this offseason has already been completed.
On Tuesday, less than 48 hours after a heartbreaking exit from the playoffs, president and general manager Masai Ujiri announced that Dwane Casey will return as head coach.
According to Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail, the deal reached is for three years at a total value of $11.25 million, with the final year being a team option.
Details of Raptors coach Dwane Casey’s deal: 3 years/$11.25M ($3.5M/$3.75M/$4M). Final year is a team option.
— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) May 6, 2014
Bringing back Casey was the right move and an easy decision to make.
The 57-year-old was initially hired by Bryan Colangelo prior to the 2011-12 season. So when Ujiri took over last May, he essentially inherited the team’s head coach and one that was entering the final year of his contract.
Casey was given the opportunity to prove himself in 2013-14 and he succeeded in every way that matters — guiding Toronto to a franchise-record 48 wins and the Atlantic Division title at a time when the team looked poised for a complete tear down and rebuild.
Since becoming the bench boss for the Raptors, the most impressive thing about Casey has been the consistency in his message and basketball philosophy. He has created an environment that values hard work and dedication, while also providing a system for players that encourages development and growth.
Over his first three seasons with the team, Casey has compiled a record of 105-125 – a mark that is better than it appears given that the roster wasn’t always as good as it is now.
The respect that the players have for Casey also speaks volumes as to why he was retained.
At the press conference on Tuesday, Casey explained that after the All-Star break, he asked the players (as well as the coaching staff and trainers) to sign a document titled “I’m All In.” The idea was that the document would represent a commitment to the team and to the process of winning now and to building for the future. According to Casey, everyone chose to sign.
Clearly the Raptors have the right coach in place, so now their attention can turn to putting the rest of the pieces in place in hopes of repeating the success of this season.
With that said, here are the four most important things that the Raptors need to accomplish before training camp begins in October.