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Five reasons to keep Raptors coach Jay Triano right where he is

With the Toronto Raptors 2010–11 campaign drawing to a close and head coach Jay Triano’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, the brass at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment must be pondering whether or not to bring the beleaguered bench boss back for another term. In an interview yesterday, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo offered this:

“Jay has done everything we’ve asked of him in this rebuilding process, and despite the circumstances he has maintained a positive work environment around the team. His contract will be addressed sometime after the season.”

Triano’s tenure has certainly been short of stellar—this season in particular. The squad’s record is an abysmal 20-53—a mark destined to be the third worst in club history—and the Raptors will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. But can Triano really be blamed for all that? Even a passing glance at Toronto’s roster returns an obvious answer: no. With that in mind, we explore five reasons the 52-year-old Canuck deserves another shot.

1. He’s had a young and inexperienced roster
The Raptors sport one of the most youthful teams in the NBA. Each night, they trot out a lineup featuring a rookie (Ed Davis); two key players in just their second professional season (DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson); a backup point guard in his third season (Jerryd Bayless); and a motley crew of other role players that play significant minutes despite their lack of pro experience. Many of these guys know how to work with Triano, and he can help build them into more mature players.

2. The team has been decimated by injury
First off, the Raptors’ most experienced and vocal player, Reggie Evans, has spent 47 games on the bench with a broken foot. Evans was one of the league leaders in rebounds when he went down, and it’s not unreasonable to think the Raps would’ve won at least a handful more games if he had been healthy. And Evans is only the tip of the injury iceberg for this year.

3. No help from the man upstairs
Because MLSE has made it clear this is a rebuilding year, management hasn’t made any effort to go out and get Triano the kind of players he needs for the team to win games. The plan for the Raptors is geared for the long run—the trouble for Triano is that NBA coaches tend to be judged on whether or not they win now.

4. A glaring dearth of talent
There’s no doubt that Triano has been dealt a difficult hand. He took the team over in the midst of a transition period, and the bones that have been thrown his way have turned out to have very little meat on them (see: Turkoglu, Hedo). The hard truth for the organization is that no amount of coaching could make the Raps’ current squad into contenders.

5. It makes financial sense
If Triano’s option is picked up for next season, he’s set to make just over $2 million—a relative bargain in NBA terms. Triano isn’t in a position to ask for more dough, and what’s more, work stoppage is a real possibility. The team will likely be loath to bring in new, more expensive blood. MLSE surely doesn’t want to shell out the big bucks for a coach that may not preside over a single game next year.

• Raptors’ dilemma: Stick with Triano or go with another coach? [Toronto Star]

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

  • hddhdhd

    How about last season? We had decent talent. We had a star player. There’s absolutely no excuses for missing the playoffs with the roster we had last year. More importantly, he’s not a good defensive coach. The bottom line is if you want to be successful and win games in the NBA, your team has to play defense. From watching him ever since we placed the “interim tag” on him, it’s evident that he’s not a defensive minded coach. Ever since Sam Mitchell has left, our defense has sunk. We’re setting records for the worst defense in NBA HISTORY. He cares about x & o’s but when it comes to energy, intensity, and motivation, he’s just not made for it. As long as he’s the head coach, my Raptors are gonna suck.

  • Patricia Hinschberger

    Jay Triano is one of the most positive and passionate coaches I’ve ever met! What about his GIANT win for the US!? He achived this smack dab in the middle of his coaching the Raptors!
    We need to stop seeing the players in VIP booths around Toronto late nights ordering bottle service all night when they should be focoused on the game and listening to their coach!
    KEEP TRIANO! He can get us there!

  • hop

    You forgot that he’s Canadian. root Root ROOT for the home team!

  • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

    I recall that Sam got fired at 8-9 by BC for trying to hold Bargnani accountable- did he not?

    Jay takes over for Sam then finished up at 25-40 and was given a contract in order to be BC’s puppet coach (coddle Bargnani) ie BC consensus.

    Apologists said that Jay needs a training camp to implement his basketball system- got 1, still no better on defense.

    As well, Jay got a turned over roster full of playoff caliber talent (4th at All Star break)and proceeds to mismanage that talent right out of the playoffs.

    Another offseason, another high volume roster turnover, another training camp- preaching defense.

    Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

    Season starts and Rap’s are going downhill fast to a current 20-53 standing under Jay.

    Now youth, injuries and inexperience are the excuses- BC put this roster together point blank, he bought Peja out who is now in Dallas playing rotation minutes. Signed Kleiza who is injured. Traded Jack for Bayless. Signed Ajinca. Traded for JJohnson. Re-signed Amir.

    The 2 longest tenured current Raptors- Jose & Bargnani, exemplify the Raptor’s basketball era under BC & Jay- facetious stagnate balderdash.

    The Rap’s haven’t been in the playoffs ever since Sam was prematurely fired- and some folks want to reward Jay for his mediocre body of work as Rap’s head coach by picking up his option?smh

    The 1st Canadian head coach in NBA history is an insult to any true Raptor supporters, fans as this is just another pr spin in the wind used by BC to pacify, buy time from the fan base in the midst of this rebuild. What exactly is BC rebuilding from? Or is this just another pr spin to rationalize all the losing going on in the TDot?

    Not to mention that both BC & Jay lied on CB post free agency insinuating that he quit on the Rap’s last season as to cover their butts for missing the playoffs- blame CB.

    Yet they both wanted to re-sign CB? Plus non of the players (Barg’s, Jack, Weems) questioned about the situation in training camp agreed with that sentiment being peddled by BC & Jay via pr spins- that CB quit on the team.

    Also, Jay wouldn’t shake CB’s hand but he shook Nash’s hand pre game.smh Jay cusses at Holly MacKenzie in his response to her asking a Raptor basketball question- just a slice of his condescending attitude, character.

    It’s not a true rebuild until BC, Gheradini (Barg’s own personal GM), Jay, Barg’s & Jose are gone from the Rap’s organization. It’s time for a new Raptor basketball era in the TDot with new minds, visions & strategies in order to make the Rap’s a competitive NBA team.

    Further that- Jim Kelly, Matt, Jack & Leo all need to go- they don’t gotta go home but they gotta go!!

  • Smokey McSmokerson

    triano is awful. needs to go. does not have the respect or attention of his players.

  • JT2

    The only convincing argument is the financial one with a lockout looming. Nobody has ever suggested that another coach would have turned this team into a contender. That’s a ridiculous straw man argument.

    The question is can MLSE/BC do better than Sam Mitchell and Jay Triano? If there are better, more proven coaches that can be had, that’s the only question that matters (aside from the question of whether an article like this would have ever been written if Triano were American).

  • RAJ

    There are many, many, many examples of teams with less talent actually moving forward and winning games thanks to good coaching and structure. Just look at Indiana somewhat Milwaukee, no great amount of talent at all, maybe less, but winning games, competing, playing disciplined ball, and Indiana is going to make the playoffs. Memphis has Randolph, little else. But they are ballers, and have structure to their game. You can only play the lack of talent card for so long — they have a decent point guard, and some talented pieces, but the coach is getting very little from them. Fire the coach, fire the GM, get someone in that will kick their asses or send them packing.

    Oh, and stop writing sports articles clearly you have no clue!

  • Klaus

    Only one of the five points you offer provides any “reason” for keeping Triano–”it makes financial sense.” But if finance is the issue, wouldn’t it make more “financial sense” to find a homeless person who would be willing to coach the team in exchange for a plate of french fries? (The rest of your “reasons to keep Triano” are simply attempts to justify the Raptors’ poor season, and offer nothing by way of evidence that Triano has even the slightest bit of competence.)

  • Jesse

    There is no reason to keep him
    the only problem is that he is canadian so they feel bad
    move him upstairs to an assistant GM job or something
    we have a good young group of guys and we need a coach who can teach them not someone who is also learning

  • ravi

    we would have made the playoffs last year if chris bosh never got inured. traino should get another chance.

  • hddhdhd

    Milwaukee’s roster last year was bad (for the exception of Bogut). Did you all see how high Scott Skiles took that team? 45-37 record(I believe) and almost pulled an upset in the first round. Talent matters, but hard work and motivation matters more, and that’s where coaching comes in.The Raptors lack that, let’s not kid ourselves. Jay Triano needs to pack his bags. He’s in the last year of his contract, hopefully we don’t extend him.

  • rex montalban

    I like Triano as a coach and so does team USA…The problem with the raptors is keeping the opponent from scoring 100+ points a game.We have heard Jay try to address that the last 2 years but young and inexperienced players don’t or won’t play consistent defense for 4 quarters,that is why most coaches don’t play rookies.In a perfect world, if a team only allowes the opposition to score less than 25 points per quarter,you would get a lot more wins but that usually means playing the boring slow it down style,work the clock in a half court set every posession like the Mike Fratello cleveland team from a few years back.The problem with that is we don’t have enough 3 point shooters,and layups and uncontested dunks will be few and difficult to get.Defensively,you need to find quick one on one defenders who will always trail shooters and not get themselves screened.Going under a screen because the other player can’t shoot always backfires on the raptors because these so called non shooters always seem to find their shot against us.The last few years,they traded away all their shooters(kapono,peterson,bellineli,delfino,parker,jack and mike james,etc)for more athletic types that can’t shoot,especially 3 pointers.Unfortunately,it is easier to change one man(the coach)than to always change the roster.I say lets keep Triano with the current group of players together for a few more years and watch them mature together.This includes Bargnani who needs a kick in the ass (or some financial incentive added to his contract),so he will increase his rebound and block numbers similar to Aldridge who was picked behind him.Just sayin’

  • ZaxonSays

    There is noway that Bargnia can ever be as good as Aldrige because Aldridge is a Nubian, which mean you have to work hard for what you get. Bargnia up to now has life easy. As a gm devoted way too much time grooming him for big contracts. Only in Toronto can we have a seven foot guard that cant handle the ball.

    Triano should be gone. Colangelo should be gone. and they can take their fans with them. Raptors ownership need to take more control and not soley depenant on Mr.Colangelo and the Canadian coach who help team Usa win gold even though he is Canadian. hahaha. My question is like Colangelo is triano only success only with other teams and not with the one that pays him millions.