More and more, it’s looking like the new head coach of the Toronto Raptors will be an inside hire.
When Masai Ujiri held a press conference announcing the firing of Dwane Casey after a 59-win regular season and with one year left on his contract, the Raptors president said his search for Casey’s replacement would have no pre-conditions.
“I’m open. We’ll look everywhere,” Ujiri said. “I’m not [ruling out] anything. We’re looking at 50 people. We’ll have hopefully a good (candidate). I’m going to look at a range, not ruling out anything. We’ll do a thorough job investigating, finding. We’re looking for the right person.”
The “50 people” reference was always taken as a bit of hyperbole, but the Raptors have a way to go to even interview 10 serious candidates. With nearly a week gone since Casey’s dismissal, Toronto has interviewed four candidates for the role, one of three remaining head coaching vacancies across the NBA.
Only one of those, Mike Budenholzer, was an external candidate. The others are familiar names to Raptors fans: Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian — Casey’s lead assistants — and Jerry Stackhouse, the head coach of the team’s G League franchise for the past two years and a past Casey assistant.
Now Budenholzer is off the table. As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the former Atlanta Hawks boss agreed to a four-year deal to be the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, a move telegraphed by Budenholzer going out for breakfast with Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and right-hand man Kris Middleton.
Once news of that got out the deal was a foregone conclusion. Breakfast with the franchise player is the final blessing.
Where that leaves the post-Casey era Raptors is an open question.
There is no doubt the team went after …read more