Steve joins me for a Rapcast to discuss the Raptors next head coach, we go through the candidates, talk about their suitability, strengths and weaknesses, and try to identify that perfect fit. There’s some guffaw in there about the timing of Triano’s firing, it’s impact on the draft, and the pressure it has put Colangelo under, including other things. Have a listen, have a read. It’s Friday!
#1 – Rick Adelman
Don’t you love it when somebody does your work for you? I do, and so I thank LA Times writer Mark Medina for this great, very recent piece on Adelman. Adelman’s teams have generally overachieved because he’s made his teams buy into a team philosophy, especially on defense, and knows how to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. The issue I see with him is that he’s known as a genuinely nice and humble person, which might be misconstrued by the Raptors players as permission to roam. Let me put it his way, I think the Raptors need someone like this, Adelman is more like this. There’s also talk that at 64 years of age, he’s more inclined to take a GM role than go through the grind of NBA travel.
#2 – Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy is making a very nice living as a color commentator with a raspy, annoying voice, a niche that had yet to be filled in the broadcasting profession. Van Gundy is, of course, known for being the ultimate Riley protégé, one who miraculously managed to make the Knicks even more unwatchable through defensive tactics that involved giving Herb Williams playing time. He’s certainly got an amount of pedigree: boasting a 57.5% overall winning record, he led the Knicks to the playoffs in 6 of 7 seasons, reaching the Finals and Conference Finals once each. After that he went to Houston where he was victim of the Tracy McGrady Curse, which involved getting knocked out of the first round in humiliating fashion. Like Frank, Van Gundy looks like he’s either about to have a heart attack or just recovered from one. Defense is the name of his game, and if Van Gundy desires, the job is his in a heartbeat. It’s amazing how good retired coaches look just by sitting around doing nothing. Van Gundy is best remembered for giving Alonzo Mourning a foot massage during a brawl.
#3 – Lawrence Frank
Best known for being a thorn in Sam Mitchell’s side, Frank is considered one of the hardest working coaches in the league. He never played collegiate or professional basketball but found his way into the professional ranks through sheer persistence. He has a career 48.3% winning percentage with New Jersey, and won the job with a 25-15 showing after the Nets fired Byron Scott midway through the 2003-04 season. The rest of his tenure in New Jersey could be considered underwhelming considering the talent at his disposal: Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd. He’s hailed as a defense-first coach, but in his five full seasons at the helm he’s amassed DRTGs that are all over the chart: 7th, 4th, 15th, 21st, 24th. If you’re looking for a stressed out dude patrolling the sidelines and demanding 100% effort, he’s your man. Relatively speaking, he doesn’t possess the pedigree that Colangelo said he’s searching for. As mentioned on the Rapcast, the man also runs the Princeton offense which is about as fitting in Toronto as Enrique Iglesias at The Comfort Zone.
#4 – Dwayne Casey
PhdSteve described Casey perfectly: the guy who seemingly gets interviewed for every coaching job without actually getting hired, including the Raptors’ open position when Sam Mitchell eventually got the nod. Casey’s defensive exploits are well-documented in Dallas, and he is one of the most respected assistants across the league. He only possesses a year and a half worth of head coaching experience, which makes him a huge underdog for the Toronto position.
#5 – Ettore Messina
The man who defended Bargnani. That is the most recent memory of Messina for Raptors fans. He has accomplished all that is possible as a coach in Europe, and could be considered the “Phil Jackson of Europe”. Having won four EuroLeague titles, two Coach of the Year awards, you would think he would have made the transition to the NBA bench by now. He has the respect of very respected NBA personnel including Greg Popovich and Jerry Buss, but it hasn’t translated to a head coaching role. By his own admission, he has always felt that he needs a couple years on the sidelines as an assistant coach before stepping into the big shoes, and that opportunity looks to have arrived with the Lakers where he’ll serve as the brains behind Mike Brown’s brawn.
NaN – Leo Rautins