Less than two years after winning Coach of the Year honours, Sam Mitchell has been fired as head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
It’s always been a love-hate relationship between Mitchell and the media and fans in Toronto, but this year things became too much and the team severed it’s ties with the coach this afternoon.
Talk of Mitchell losing his job started last week after a closed-door meeting between Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo, but after the team won two-straight games it looked like Mitchell had earned some job security.
It appears that was short-lived because after a road loss in Los Angeles on Sunday coupled with the franchise’s fifth worse loss last night in Denver the team decided to part ways with Mitchell.
“This is a difficult but necessary step the franchise must take,” Colangelo said in a statement released by the team. “We appreciate all that Sam has done for the organization, applaud him for his successes and wish him nothing but the best with his future in basketball.”
Mitchell posted a 156-189 (.452) record in his four-plus seasons at the helm of the Raptors and was awarded the Red Auerbach Trophy as the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2006-07 season.
Moving a couple seats down the bench will be Jay Triano. He’s in his seventh season as a member of the Raptors’ coaching staff and became the first Canadian born and Canadian trained coach in the NBA when he served as an assistant coach to Lenny Wilkens during the 2002-03 season.
Triano has yet to be a head coach in the NBA, but he served as interim head coach for one game last season when Mitchell was away for a personal family matter.
I’ve dealt with Triano numerous times over the past year and his knowledge and passion for the game has always shone through. He’s well deserving of a chance to be a head coach in the NBA, it’s just a shame it has to come mid-season and at the expense of his former coaching associate losing his job.