Toronto Raptors Planning Future With Casey and DeRozan in Mind
The Toronto Raptors took a huge step forward this past season. The team finished the regular season with a record of 56-26 — good for 2nd best in the Eastern Conference — and had a stellar postseason run before being defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now that their season is over, the Toronto Raptors planning future out has come to a start.
Two of the big pieces to their success this season have been their head coach, Dwyane Casey, and DeMar DeRozan. Obviously, it was a team effort. However, with the free agency period beginning soon, these two individuals are going to get a lot of attention from the team’s general manager, Masai Ujiri.
DeMar DeRozan Enters Free Agency
DeMar DeRozan was half of the Raptors’ unstoppable backcourt duo, with the other half being point guard, Kyle Lowry. That’s the biggest reason why DeRozan will be the team’s top priority headed into the offseason.
Starting July 1st, the 26-year-old shooting guard will officially be an unrestricted free agent. Most of the time, when an All-Star hits the free agent market as an UFA, it becomes a guessing game as to where he will sign — ahem, Kevin Durant.
However, there seems to be no speculation as to where he will play next season. A day after the team was eliminated from the Eastern Conference Finals, DeRozan publicly stated his intent on re-signing with the Raptors. Being drafted by the team with the 9th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft out of USC, Toronto has been the only NBA home for DeRozan.
After averaging 23.5 points per game in the regular season, Ujiri expressed a mutual feeling with the shooting guard:
“Our No. 1 goal is to bring DeMar back here. We feel great that he wants to come back to our organization. I spoke to him [Sunday], and his eyes were still red. You could tell. He said he felt empty the next day, which was telling,” said the Raptors’ general manager. “Speaking to him and Kyle [Lowry], they almost feel like we had a game to play still, and that game is not there. There’s that hunger, and you like that, and then now, it’s my part to figure it out.”
Dwyane Casey Their Coach of the Future?
According to Ujiri, Dwyane Casey will be another top priority this offseason. After a successful season like the one they had, the Raptors are convinced that they have found their “coach for the future.” After beating the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat to make it one step away from the NBA Finals, I’m sure fans would agree with that statement.
“Coach Casey’s our coach for the future. That’s very easy for us to figure out. That will be done in our sleep, I think,” said Ujiri.
Casey has a career head coaching record of 263-253, a .510 percentage. In his five years with the Raptors, though, he has a 210-184. He began coaching the team during the 2011-2012 season and finished that season 23-43 in 66 games, with the season shortened due to a lockout. He increased his wins each season with the Raptors, going from 23 to 34, 48, 49 and then 56 next season.
Can that number continue to climb?