" Some of those performances standards were certain things that we put in place to measure our progress as a team and an organization. Again not necessarily being measured by wins and losses. That was something that we both acknowledged was not going to be an easy task last year. But it was more about environment and direction. As I said at the time (His End Of Season Press Conference) Jay fared well in a lot of areas. But at the end of the day in terms of a gut feeling about where this needs to go and how we need to get there and how quickly we want to get there. "
Colangelo went on to talk about his conversation with Jay and the conclusion of that conversation being the feeling that there was need for a new voice and a new leader to take this team to the next level. Colangelo went on to praise Triano and speak of his basketball knowledge and how he looks forward to working with him in his new role as his special assistant. What exactly that role could be is up for debate. According to Colangelo you might even see Jay back in his old job as an assistant coach if the man he hires would want Triano.
But reading between the lines of what Bryan Colangelo had to say it would appear that Triano's lack of ability to get his team to play defence ranks high in the reasons why he is no longer the head coach of the Raptors. That also may speak as to why P.J Carlesimo will not be considered for the job.
" I was not hiring P.J to be Jay's ultimate replacement. That was not the case. What we were looking to do was to amp up Jay's staff, amp up defensive focus and effort. That was the sole purpose of bringing in P.J last year."
Which clearly didn't happen. While P.J is still under contract it would be a surprise if he remained given that he is not even being considered for the head coaching position. In terms of the rest of the assistants they all are not under contract and would likely have to be selected by the new head coach to remain. Who that will be is up for debate. Bryan Colangelo made it clear he wants someone with experience and pedigree and a better defensive mindset combined with a free flowing offence. Ideally more balance in a approach leaning to defence. Here is how Colangelo defined it.
" Candidates that have a great deal of experience. I think that is something that is important in this regard, I think this young team that was obviously developing well under Jay need to see some that has a pedigree or resume that would indicate that this is some that has achieved success. Clearly someone that has somewhat of a defensive minded prospective. Someone that has had success putting solid defensive units out there. That have had success limiting points while still having some flow to the offence. Finding a perfect blend in someone that does have a good feel of the offensive side of the ball. But at the same time can really drill down on the defensive side of the ball which is something that we need to dramatically improve on. "
So it would seem that the lack of defence is ultimately what cost Jay his job. Some would point to the fact with Bargnani and Calderon as starters that might not have been possible for Jay to do. If both remain under this new coach we will find out. Given what Colangelo desires to have it makes for a very short list you would figure. Raptor fans have long mentioned the name of Jeff Van Gundy as a potential coach for the Toronto Raptors. Colangelo's description sure sounds like him. However it would appear he seems very content in his current role with ESPN as commentator. Other names that have been put out there include Rick Aldeman who also would fit the description Colangelo laid out. Lawrence Frank the former Nets coach now an assistant with the Celtics could also be considered. If you want a long shot how about Jerry Sloan who was the longest serving coach in NBA History until last season when he left the Jazz. But there is no indication that Sloan has any desire to get back into coaching.
This is going to be a huge move in terms of Colangelo's long term future and one he will not take lightly. After all Bryan only was given a short extension himself and really can not afford to get this wrong. You also wonder if the fact Colangelo was not able to make this move sooner has cost him a candidate he desired? Kevin McHale was just hired by the Rockets and Mike Brown surprisingly ended up with the Lakers job. Colangelo is under the gun time wise in terms of finding a coach prior to the draft. Something he says in a perfect world he would like to do. But with the draft fast approaching on June 23rd that seems unlikely. There also is that whole lockout thing coming too. I am not clear on how that would impact on things. If you go by the NFL example it would suggest that Colangelo would need to hire a coach prior to the lockout taking place. He was asked about this but declined to comment based on the NBA rules about talking about the "L" word and the fact he would likely be fined.
But make no mistake about the search for the next Raptors head coach has begun and it will be a huge step for this franchise one way or the other. Triano for my money was never going to be the guy to lead this team all the way to the end of the road in being a contender. So the fact the Raptors have cut bait with him makes total sense to me. It also is clear at least for me that this team never was buying into what he was selling on the defensive end of the floor. While everyone to a man likes Jay Triano he was not the guy to get the job done in the long term to me. He never seems to lose a job anyway so it is hard to feel to sorry for him. Just as he survived several coaching changes as an assistant. He has survived his own demise with this new job as some sort of assistant to Colangelo. Does this mean he will be getting Colangelo coffee? Likely not but it does keep him still a part of the organization which is much more than many coaches get on being fired. Colangelo himself thinks Jay was given more than a fair shake and I agree with him. Here is what Colangelo had to say on it.
" There are certain things that I felt we needed to address from a different point of view, with respect to a fair chance I think that by virtue of a couple things. Jay was here for a full 2 and 2/3rds seasons. There was a team that arguably had a lot more talent and a team that had arguably a lot less talent. Again not being measure by wins and losses being measured by overall performance. There was many things that go into that performance beyond wins and losses. It was determined that it was the right time to make a move. I would say by virtue of Jay having an oppurtunity to remain with the organization to continue to be part of this rebuilding plan and still have input into the on going process. I think Jay not only got a fair shake but he has an ongoing fair opportunity to be part of this."
I would agree with that one hundred percent. But it all seems very odd to me that Colangelo even though he gives no indication of it seems to have done a 180 degree turn on Triano. Anyone that walked away from his end of the season press conference that did not feel Jay Triano would be back if Bryan was didn't see same press conference I did. Yet that is not the case. It makes you wonder what exactly happened. I can only come up with two explanations. When Colangelo was brought back there was an understanding between himself and MLSE that he would make a move at the coaching position or he would not be back. Now who was the one pushing for that is unclear. If it was Colangelo it would seem odd that he would keep Jay Triano on as his assistant. If it was the MLSE Board that wanted Jay out that would seem odd as well given they have kept him around for so long in the organization. The only other thing that makes any sense is the meeting that Colangelo had with Triano changed his thinking on Triano's ability to coach this team going forward.
Still I am not going to complain as to why this has happened or how. I am just glad it did. I have expressed it many times how I feel in terms of Jay Triano and his future as coach of this team. I feel this was a positive step in the right direction. I am also encouraged by the type of coach Colangelo wants to bring in to replace him. Ultimately regardless of what you think of Jay Triano you have to respect him for all that he as done as man for Canadians in terms of coaching at the NBA level. He has and will remain a historic figure for others to follow. Give him credit for all that he has been able to accomplish. However that is not enough in my view to keep him on board coaching without having really proven anything to justify it. It will be very interesting to see who in fact Colangelo can land to replace him. When the Lakers are only getting Mike Brown to replace a coaching icon in Phil Jackson you have every right to be a little worried. But Bryan Colangelo has to get this right not only for the franchises future but his own.