New York (AFP) – Dwane Casey was fired Friday as coach of the Toronto Raptors, four days after this season’s second-winningest NBA club was swept by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs.
The Raptors won a franchise-record 59 games and captured the top seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in club history, but their ouster by the Cavaliers without winning a game in the best-of-seven series was Casey’s undoing.
“After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very difficult but necessary step the franchise must take,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said.
“As a team we are constantly trying to grow and improve in order to get to the next level.
“We celebrate everything Dwane has done for the organization, we thank him and we wish him nothing but the best in future. He was instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team and we are so proud of that.”
Casey, who coached in the Japan league and served as an assistant coach for Japan’s national team from 1989 to 1994, spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach with Seattle before getting his first NBA head coaching job at Minnesota, going 53-69 before being fired in January 2007.
He spent three seasons as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, setting defensive schemes to thwart LeBron James and spark Dallas to the 2011 NBA crown. That prompted the Raptors to hire Casey in June 2011.
Casey, 61, went 320-238 in seven seasons coaching the Raptors, bringing four Atlantic division crowns and the team’s first three 50-win campaigns.
The firing came two days after Casey was named NBA Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association.