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Ulmer: After Careful Consideration, Raptors Reassign Triano

Related: Raptors Decline Option On Jay Triano
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June 1, 2011
Mike Ulmer - raptors.com


It turns out Bryan Colangelo and the management of the Toronto Raptors can no longer live with that one vexing word.

Yes, Jay Triano is a good coach. He is articulate, thoughtful and committed to the game.

Yes, the club has failed to visit the post-season during his two-and-a-half year tenure.

But considering…

Considering the grounded ship he inherited from Sam Mitchell, considering the year long prelude to Chris Bosh’s defection to Miami.

Considering the lack of explosiveness at point guard in a league that has given itself over to explosive talents such as MVP Derrick Rose. Considering the fact that Andrea Bargnani is the club’s first option on offence.

Considering its youth, considering its draft order, considering Toronto is rarely high up on the wish list of premier free agents.

Consider no longer.

That’s what the Raptors now want. They don’t want to consider any more.

“Jay was here two and two-thirds seasons, there was a team that arguably had a lot more talent, and a team with a lot less,” Colangelo said.

Over Triano’s 87 wins and 142 losses, they never found out what they had. How could you? Whenever you looked at the record, you had to consider… Give a man a great team and he will show you what he has. Give him much, much less, and you never really know.

That’s why Colangelo returned any conversation to standards, achievements related to wins and losses that weren’t based solely on scoreboard success.

When it became clear that the best deployment of the 2010-2011 season was to run Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan out on the floor and let them find their way, it fell to Triano to ease that transition. When you look at things other than wins and losses, as you must, you may be more equitable, but you also embrace standards that are by-products of success. If you are judged not by wins but by winning trends and you still lose, any measuring stick feels greased.

“We had set some performance standards in place,” Colangelo said quite rightly. “Each year Jay improved and made progress as a head coach. Some of those performance standards –- not necessarily wins and losses -- were more about environment, direction.”

Those are pretty hazy measuring sticks. At the end of the day, it came down to what it always comes down to: a feeling in the abdomen of the person in charge.

“It was a gut feeling on where this needs to go and how we want to get there,” Colangelo said. “Jay and I had a chance to set down once my contract situation was resolved. We talked about the direction of team. We decided it was time to change the voice, change the leader at the helm.”

Not extending Triano, of course, is simple enough. He wasn’t fired. He was reassigned and his knowledge of the team, the media, the realities of the NBA and the demands of fandom makes him a near indispensable figure. For sheer innate decency and approachability he ranks with Michael Pinball Clemons as a local sporting treasure.

Colangelo said if his new coach wants to retain Triano, that would be fine by him. Certainly he knows the turf: Triano worked with three Raptors head coaches.

Colangelo said he would like to have his new hire in place by the NBA draft, June 23. That’s three weeks away and the Raptors have a gaudy list, eight candidates, for their fifth overall pick.

The new Raptors coach will be hired based on stature, experience and pedigree, Colangelo said. He does not consider a playing career in the NBA a prerequisite. What will be essential will be a comprehensive defensive system. The Raptors have never had difficulty scoring but defensive elements: rebounding, help defence, have long been elements that needed improvement.

With a number five pick on the way and Davis and DeRozan showing ample improvement, the club looks ready to improve next season. It will soon be time for measuring improvement the old-fashioned way.