Triano gets the boot from the Raptors bench—but not from the office

Triano gets the boot from the Raptors bench—but not from the office

Well, that was a surprise: in his first move since receiving a two-year contract extension, Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo turfed head coach Jay Triano, declining to renew his option for the 2011–12 season. Even more surprising, though, is that Triano, the first Canadian head coach in NBA history, will be remaining with the team as a consultant. The news—first reported on Twitter by the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith (because where else are we supposed to get our news these days?)—comes despite Colangelo’s continued public endorsement of the man who led the Raptors to a 87-142 record over the course of his near three-year tenure.

The National Post explains:

The Raptors won just 22 games in 2010-11 and Colangelo clearly wants to see improvement, and not by a handful of wins. He called the decision to replace Triano “a gut feeling” and talked about “accelerating the process” of Toronto’s rebuild.

Colangelo declined to get into details, but surely defence was a large part of the equation.

Two seasons ago, the Raptors allowed 110.2 points per 100 possessions, the most in the league. This year, that number dropped — to 110.0, still the worst mark in the league. That was a disappointment considering the team’s increased athleticism, even if it came in the form of inexperienced players.

And that will likely be Triano’s legacy in Toronto. Never mind that Chris Bosh left for South Beach or that Jorge Garbajosa broke his leg (um, three years ago)—Triano had talented teams (before this season, at least) but still failed to affect the team’s culture in the same way that Sam Mitchell or Lenny Wilkens did before him.

Regardless, Triano remains one of the league’s most respected basketball minds and a hand-picked member of Duke coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski’s Team USA Basketball coaching staff. And as bizarre as it seems for him to remain with the Raps, continuity is important—especially considering his strong relationship with the squad’s young nucleus of DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani.

Rumours are flying as to who Triano’s replacement will be, and with Colangelo calling for a new defensive identity, we can only pray that it’s this guy.

Triano out as Raptors coach [Toronto Star]
Experience and Defense [Toronto Sun]
Jay Triano out as Raptors coach [National Post]

(Image: C.J. LaFrance/Stringer/GettyImages)