Hardly a surprise, the Toronto Raptors made it official by signing long time assistant coach and most recently, interim head coach Jay Triano to a 3 year contract (final year is not guaranteed). Dropping the interim tag he becomes the first ever Canadian to be named a head coach, ironically for the for the lone Canadian team in the NBA.
A little history: Triano is the 7th head coach in franchise history. He joined the Raptors as an assistant under Lenny Wilkens in 2002 and served 7 years as an assistant (with Wilkens, Kevin O’Neill, and Sam Mitchell) before taking over midway through the 08-09 season. He also served as an assistant coach with the USA Basketball Select Team in 2007 and 2008 to go along with his international experience as a former head coach of the Canadian National team.
My take: This was a safe signing for the Raptors pure and simple. After dishing out a ton of money to Sam Mitchell,I don’t believe the organization was willing to go out and reel in a big ticket coach. Names like Avery Johnson, Eddie Jordan, Jeff Van Gundy, and even unknown Ettore Messina were floating around amongst the media and fans, but I think it was pretty much carved in stone at the end of the season that Jay Triano would become the head coach of the Toronto Raptors long term. Was this the right route to take? Questionable. But the man with the plan, President and GM Bryan Colangelo, thought it was. My initial reaction to this signing was that it had to be financial decision, but after hearing BC in the presser and knowing how much he hates to lose -a fact that has been well documented- it seems to be a choice he really believes in. There are no more excuses now, he had the option to go out and get his own “guy” and chose to stick with Jay. Triano seems to be “co-operative” and probably has shown more willingness to carry out Colangelo’s vision than former coach Sam Mitchell did. His coaching record from last season was far from stellar but I believe that has as much to do with what he had to work with than it did his abilities as an NBA coach. He has been doing all the right things since he got placed in this position and I give Kudos to Jay for sticking to the plan and in return he is rewarded with the job security he wanted.
Moving forward: Jay has been around the players on this roster from day 1, every single one of them has joined the team after he started with the Raptors so there is no excuse of familiarity. He is known to have a good working relationship with our “franchise” player CB4, and has played a big role in developing our future cornerstone, Bargnani. It is expected that Triano will get to put together his own coaching staff and early rumblings have names like Alvin “Boogie” Williams in the mix to come on board in some capacity. What happens from there lies not in his hands but in Colangelo’s, I believe a coach can only do so much at this level. He needs a better roster to work with and that is where the real work starts.
Colangelo has always been known to be able to shake up a team and have them do an about turn in record time- he has hardware to prove it. If he believes that Jay Triano is the right man for this job, then as a fan I am going to put my faith in him. If this all works out, BC will once again be heralded as a “genius” and if it doesn’t, we can just “BLAME CANADA“