UPDATE: Toronto announced that they’ve inked head coach Dwane Casey to a new three-year deal Tuesday, this after he guided the Raptors to a record 48-win season and the Atlantic Division title in 2013-’14. From the press release:
“From day one last summer Dwane has done an excellent job both on-and-off the court,” said Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri. “There’s been growth from each player on the roster and the team’s identity of toughness and a desire to always compete has clearly been established.
“We’re very excited to continue to grow and develop this team with Dwane as our head coach.”
“I thank Tim (Leiweke) and Masai for providing me and my staff the platform this season to coach and now to continue the process of developing this young team,” said Casey. “We have taken some big steps toward our goal of installing a culture and a defensive mindset.
“At the same time we realize the challenge ahead in order to complete our quest to build a championship program for the best fans in the NBA!”
In his third season at the helm of the Raptors, Casey continued to oversee the development of a young nucleus. Toronto was the only team this past season with two second-year starters to reach the postseason. Point guard Kyle Lowry established career highs in scoring (17.9) and assists (7.4), guard DeMar DeRozan earned his first All-Star selection, sophomore forward Terrence Ross moved into a starting role in December and increased his scoring average by 5.7 points and second-year centre Jonas Valanciunas led the team in double-doubles (25).
(GM Masai Ujiri) and coach Dwane Casey have agreed in principle on a new three-year contract extension that will afford the team a much-needed level of continuity, according to NBA and Toronto sources.
Terms of the deal, which could be officially announced as early as Tuesday when Ujiri and Casey hold their end-of-season media sessions, were not available.
Casey, 57, has taken the team to unprecedented heights since being hired by then-Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo. Preaching a defence-first attitude, he led the Raptors to the best regular season record in franchise history (48-34) this season, an Atlantic Division title and a compelling seven-game playoff round with the Brooklyn Nets.
“One thing I respect about coach Casey, man, he’s been consistent,” all-star swingman DeMar DeRozan said Monday. “He’s been the same Dwane Casey since he’s been here, preached the same thing, told us to stick with the same principles and they’ll work . . . and everything he said came together like he said it would.
“You gotta respect coach Casey. He never changed up. You could go in his office, knock on his door, talk to him whenever, you could text him.
“He’s a great dude.”
Casey becomes the second head coach in franchise history to get a second contract. Outside of Sam Mitchell, who got a four-year extension after his first deal, all of the others who have stayed with the team for a second contract were interim head coaches first.
Casey has become one of the most popular coaches in franchise history since supplanting Jay Triano following the 2010-11 season. His homespun nature and genuine concern for the players as athletes and men has endeared him to the team and the fans.
“I think he’ll be back; it’s as simple as that,” said point guard Kyle Lowry. “As a matter of fact, I’m sure he’ll be back.”
Casey, agent Warren Legarie and Ujiri have been working on the framework of a deal for months. Ujiri and Legarie met during the NBA all-star weekend in New Orleans in February to start the process that was completed on Monday.