The Toronto Raptors made the wise decision of giving Dwane Casey a three-year contract this afternoon.
Financial terms of the deal were not available.
This season was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Even the most loyal Raptor fan would have been crazy to think the team that broke training camp had a shot at the playoffs.
When asked before Game 7 if he thought he’d be in that position back in October, Casey chuckled and told the reporter, “I would take those odds, and I would probably say you’re probably over-medicated.”
But somehow Casey took a rag-tag group of players and led them to an Atlantic Division title and a thrilling first round series where they pushed the Brooklyn Nets to seven games.
Casey earned the respect of his fellow coaches and the media which was shown by the fact he finished fifth in Coach of the Year voting this season.
Players are willing to play hard for Casey because they have earned his trust and respect.
“One thing I respect about Coach Casey, man, he’s been consistent,” DeMar DeRozan recently told the media. “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. We did it, and everything he said came together like he said it would. And 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 player’s coach. He’s a great dude. Sometimes you don’t even look at him like a coach because you could go up to him and talk to Dwane about any situation. I think that’s what helped us a lot.”
It’s taken some time to see results – just last season a Pound The Rock mantra was a focal point for the team – but now that players see the results they have firmly bought into what Casey has been selling.
Greivis Vasquez struggled through injury issues earlier this season while playing for the Sacramento Kings. After getting healthy and finding a consistent role under Casey, he flourished.
Playing for Casey was something Vasquez appreciated and won’t be quick to forget.
“This guy did so much and really got us ready,” Vasquez boasted about Casey to the media earlier today. “As a leader, you gotta give him a lot of credit. He did a great job. He did a great job, I thought we got better throughout the season. We gradually got better and the coaching staff was great. He should be back, to be honest, because what a great job he has done.”
Yesterday Casey was already talking about coaching the Raptors next season. He stopped himself and joked, “I keep talking about next season and using we.”
“I think [Casey will] be back,” Kyle Lowry told reporters after Game 7. “Simple as that. Matter of fact, I’m sure he’ll be back.”
Clearly the players wanted Casey back and Casey wanted to be back.
It was a smart and classy move for the Raptors to tie up Casey for the next three seasons today and not making the respected head coach hang in the wind.