The Toronto Raptors fired Dwane Casey after 7 seasons on Friday. Casey led the team to the #1 seed in the East this past year, retooled the offense, and they were swept by the Cavaliers in the second round. Casey was named coach of the year by the NBA coaches association. The Raptors are a flawed team and that roster isn’t ideal for what they ultimately want, which is to win a championship. Unfortunately for Casey, he’s not the team president. That’s Masai Ujiri. Regardless of whether or not Masai has some blame to accept, and he does, in the roster construction. The reality is, he’s not going to fire himself, that left Casey as the odd man out. Interestingly enough, if things had gone slightly different in the 2013 draft, the Raptors would have a much different roster and Casey might still have a job. On Friday’s “Woj Pod,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Masai had a deal on the table to acquire the OKC Thunder’s #12 pick, and their draft target was none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo. Imagine for a moment, Giannis on the Raptors…
Masai had a deal in Toronto. I remember Masai was working with Oklahoma City on a possible trade. I think Oklahoma was at 10 that year and they took Steven Adams. Ten or 11 or 12, somewhere in there. And once Adams made it to the Thunder, there was no trade. But I think if Adams had gotten taken ahead of them, Oklahoma City may have traded out of there, and Toronto would’ve gotten (Giannis).
That’s how quick these things happen in the NBA. The team in front of you in the draft goes a different way than you thought, and a player you didn’t expect to be on the board when it’s your turn to select is. It’s really crazy when you think about how a person’s career is directed based on a system like a draft.
We don’t know what Toronto would’ve had to give up to acquire the pick, but it likely would’ve been worth it. Likely a big man, Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson? Would they have traded Lowry after just acquiring him the year before? By the way, the Raptors first round pick in 2013 was traded to the Rockets in 2012 for Lowry. That pick got to OKC courtesy of the infamous James Harden deal.
Oh, what a tangled web! Every time the Raptors play the Bucks, Masai has to wonder what if. For Casey, having a squad with Lowry, DeRozan, and Giannis might have been better equipped to take down LeBron James and the Cavaliers.