And here we go again
Well, wasn’t that a day!
Nice slow early-summer afternoon, right? Wrong.
Only a narcissist would revel in getting through a rather intense evening; I was ticked that I missed the Mighty Rockies and the post-game revelry.
And now not only do we have to hire a new coach, we have to train him, too. Eight of ‘em now, in 16 years. Yikes.
Did Jay get a fair shake?
I wonder. I really do.
All the guy did was make young kids better and do precisely what his boss wanted while piling up the losses on his record when he probably could have coached a bit differently and won a few more games.
He took the hits, knowing full well he was far more out front than anyone in the organization and he comported himself with dignity, worked hard and did his level best to make the city, his players, his staff and the organization proud.
Was it perfect?
Hell, no. Never is.
Is he the best coach in the NBA?
Was he the right coach for this group?
Well, if it was about developing talent, I can make a case that he was, given the improvement of guys like DeRozan, Davis, Johnson and Johnson.
Did he deserve a shot to see what the next step was going to be?
I think so, yes.
So, while I can understand the tugs on Bryan to make a change -- with a two-year deal he can’t afford to wait too long -- I think he again might have pulled the trigger too quickly.
Maybe not, but that’s what I think.
And I also think this: This will the defining moment of Bryan’s tenure in Toronto. More than any draft pick, more than any trade or free agent signing, what he does with this job opening will make or break him.
He’s going to have a long list of possibilities -- I imagine you could rattle off a dozen names off the top of your head of guys who’ll have their agents call today -- and he’s got to hit a home run with this one.
I know Bryan well, I think, and I imagine he’s relishing this time. He gets to fully put his stamp on the staff, he has never, ever had to go outside the organization to hire a head coach and it’s going to be fun to see what he comes up with.
So, who gets the job?
Well, the obvious suspects are Lawrence Frank and Dwane Casey, both quite accomplished and the kind of guys Bryan seemed to target with his announcement that a pedigree and defensive mentality was a key attribute.
I like ‘em both, actually.
Frank’s been there, done that and got a so-so defensive Nets team to play pretty well on the defensive end. Good guy, knows how to handle the media it seems and was recommended by a couple of league people I talked to last night.
Casey? I will say this: He’s got a huge amount of defensive responsibility in Dallas and if he can that team with that personnel -- an aged Jason Kidd and a defensive liability like Dirk Nowitzki -- to play like that, he’s got to have some skills. Maybe he’s the guy who can sufficiently hide, or convince, Bargnani to defend.
Who’d be the favourite right now?
Every indication I’ve been getting is that it’s Frank but there’s all kinds of time for that to change.
But .... and there’s always a but.
If they want to go a different route, let me toss these two names out there:
I’m sure Michael Malone, who was the defensive guy for Mike Brown in Cleveland and is for Monty WIlliams in New Orleans, would have some interest and, totally out of the blue, old friend Dee Brown might be ready to step up after being the head coach of Springfield in the D League.
I think they should make a call to Jerry Sloan but I’m not sure this would be the situation that he’d like; Rick Adelman’s rep is that he works better with veteran teams and this isn’t one of them, and you need to trust me on this, there is more a chance of you coaching the Raptors next year than there is of Phil Jackson coming. Forget it.
Mighty Rockies 24, The Dastardly Other Guys 4.
Of course, I was sitting in the car listening to the Colangelo call with my cell phone plugged into Super Son’s computer so its battery wouldn’t die for the first part of the game and then had to blow out of there to type about an inning later so I had nothing to do with it.
MGrange (TM) takes his talents to ... well, to Jarvis and Bloor, I think it is. He’s out of the Globe and into Sportsnet and Canadian newspapers are the losers. Good for him, though.
Blatch goes back to the Post and Wayne Parrish scores a coup to get her and Cabbie goes to TSN? Hmm. And my phone never rings. (I keed, boss, I keed)
Seriously, I’m in this joint yesterday chilling and they’ve got some big shindig going on later in the evening and there’s giveaways and all that.
What’s up on the wall as one of the “prizes?”
A Linas Kleiza jersey. Red. No. 11. Remember him?
Guess all the Solomon Alabi’s were already given away.
Let’s get this out of the way right now, shall we.
Do not -- NOT -- think for a second that Ettore Messina -- the Euro Flavour Of The Past Months -- is in the mix as the coach.
I cannot for a second think Bryan hands over a young team to a guy who’s never coached an NBA practice, let alone a game, or let alone a player. And nor should he.
Two quick, unrelated, digression-filled personal Shaq moments and we’ll get more into him tomorrow because, well, because there’s too much Raptors stuff here.
I was sitting on the aisle covering the 1992 NBA Draft in Portland (part of trip that included the first Dream Team and, if memory serves, a CFL exhibition game) and when the Magic drafted him and he walked to the stage, it was like an eclipse.
I looked over my shoulder and the entire room was blocked by the biggest man I’d ever seen.
If you don’t think the fact I covered the day he entered the NBA and am still doing it now that he’s retired as the oldest player in the league doesn’t make me feel a tad ancient, you’re wrong.
And, I don’t remember what year it was but it was one summer day, it was about a zillion degrees out (and since not many of you have seen me lately, you may recall that I’m not particularly built for the heat) and there’s no air conditioning at Casa Doug at the time.
So, what to do? Go see a movie, right?
A matinee, it’s air conditioned, there’s popcorn and it’s fun.
Off we trod, get tickets, sit down, and are thoroughly not entertained for about 90 minutes of -- get this! -- Blue Chips.
Don’t think I’ve forgiven Shaq for being in that one since. It made Kazaam look like On The Waterfront.
Quick Shaq thought and we’ll expand on it tomorrow:
No, he probably didn’t get the most out of his talents but he was literally and figuratively a giant of the game and he “got it” like few players do.
This is harsh, and totally one man’s opinion, but I don’t see a single member of Jay’s staff coming back. And because they are all honourable and decent men who worked to the very best of their abilities here, that’s too bad.
Here’s a bit of a Raptors update that has nothing to do with coaching.
Am told Amir’s having his ankle surgery on Friday, which is far too long after the season in my estimation. Should have had it three or four weeks ago so he’d be ready -- for sure -- on time for camp.
Okay, that’s probably enough, right?
One more note, though. Because life gets in the way, I’m afraid I have beg off an IGBT thing tonight.
Sorry but we’ll have to resume Sunday from Dallas. But if you want to say hi, and help me get together a mailbag, please click here and send.