Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey will be named as the National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year for 2017-18, according to a report from Marc Stein of the New York Times.
The award, in its second year of existence, is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches. Mike D’Antoni and Erik Spoelstra split the award last year. Casey, who was one of eight coaches receiving votes, per Stein, is expected to be announced as the winner of the NBCA version of the award later Wednesday.
UPDATE: The NBCA made the announcement official.
Dwane Casey named recipient of the 2018 Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award.
— NBA Coaches Assoc. (@NBA_Coaches) May 9, 2018
“Dwane Casey once again maximized the Toronto roster to achieve the top record in the Eastern Conference. Congratulations to Dwane on this prestigious recognition,” Dallas Mavericks head coach and president of the NBCA Rick Carlisle said in a release.
“To be honored by your peers is incredibly gratifying, and I am so thankful to my colleagues across the league for this recognition. I’m also grateful to the talented and dedicated coaching staff I work with every day in Toronto,” said Casey. “To be recognized with an award that bears Michael H. Goldberg’s name is very special.”
The NBA’s official Coach of the Year award, as voted on by media, will be announced at the league’s award show on June 25.
The timing of this leak is probably not a coincidence. Casey is incredibly well-respected by his peers, and with his job status being questioned publically after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, it makes sense for the Coaches Association to send as much support as they can. This would certainly qualify, and it won’t be the only show of support for Casey’s job from within the industry. Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue called the idea of Casey losing his job “absurd,” and throughout the year, visiting coaches have commented on Casey’s success not only consistently improving individually and at the team level, but in completely reshaping the team’s playing identity on the fly.
Still, a coach winning Coach of the Year – Casey is considered one of the two or three favorites for the NBA’s award – and then losing his job is not unprecedented. Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl won Coach of the Year in 2011 under then-general manager Masai Ujiri, and when Ujiri left for Toronto that summer, an alleged Karl play for a contract extension resulted in the loss of his job. Karl and Casey are not dissimilar in reputation as coaches who can get more than the sum of the parts out of rosters during the regular season but haven’t consistently met the increased postseason expectations that come from raising that bar.
Multiple reports out of Toronto in the last few days have the Raptors leaning toward making a coaching change. It’s unclear what a succession plan would be, with three reasonable in-house candidates in Nick Nurse, Jerry Stackhouse, and Rex Kalamian, and a number of interesting names on the coaching free agent market. If the Raptors were to part ways with Casey, he would quickly move near the top of that free agent list and could likely work his way into the mix for openings as soon as he decided to.