There are many reasons why Jay Triano was officially announced as the new, permanent Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors this week. The economics worked out favourably (isn’t getting paid a lot at $3mil. a season, since they’re still paying Mitchell’s bought out contract), there is chemistry there with the club (GM Bryan Colangelo and Coach Triano see eye to eye, and the players like him from all reports as well), and a tremendous marketability remains in tact (Triano is the only Canadian-born Head Coach in the NBA presently and, well, ever!). A lack of superstar candidates helped to ensure that Jay Triano, who did a fairly decent job when he entered as Interim Head Coach upon Sam Mitchell’s firing, retained the position he occupied to end last season.
This move makes sense for a number of reasons so it’s hard to say that it was in the best interest of the club to go a different route. The real question to ask, however, is whether or not this move will bring more success and also reaffirm Colangelo’s status as one of the league’s best executives. Taking a big step back last season finally cast doubt on the two-time NBA Executive of the Year (once with Phoenix and once here with Toronto). This is likely the final shot before wandering eyes begin to appear within the MLSE boardroom.
By winning the Coach of the Year award in the 06/07 season Mitchell put a halt to the plans Colangelo had in place to bring along his former Coach from Phoenix Mike D’Antoni. Whatever your thoughts might be on the uptempo, 7 second shot clock offence that D’Antoni employs (some argue it will never win a Championship), D’Antoni has revitalized the New York Knicks much like he helped to do the same with the Suns. And Mitchell is no longer employed by the Raptors, which obviously shows that the resigning had more to do with appearances than anything else. That award, which was really the only saving grace for Mitchell in his role with the team, was the kink in Colangelo’s ultimate plans, and one of the primary reasons for the mess that is present today with this Toronto outfit.
There’s great skepticism with the appointment of Triano among fans and critics alike, and not just do to a lack of Coaching experience in the Association. There are also plenty of questions regarding his record from this past season (25-40 after taking over), the respect he has garnered throughout the League (even though his players love him a Canadian ballplayer not named Steve Nash has a hard time gaining ‘cred’), and whether this is nothing more than a marketing ploy to drag out Canadians to watch the games. Working with and not against the GM should benefit Triano, as will having a team from day one and not after a negative start to a season.
This seems like a no-brainer appointment, it’s obvious this was the choice at the time when the club is left to finish paying off Sam Mitchell’s buyout contract. However the 3 year extension, even at a relatively bargain basement price for an NBA Coach, makes it appear that Colangelo is placing a lot of faith in keeping his job in Triano’s hands. It is hard to say this move is bad for the club, but whether it’s the best move, only time will tell.