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17.09.2018, 05:30
The regular season is irrelevant.

Thatís the message the Toronto Raptors sent Friday when they fired Dwane Casey Ty Montgomery Jersey (http://www.packerscheapstore.com/ty-montgomery-jersey-cheap) , two days after his now-former peers in the NBA said he did the best coaching job in the league this season. Casey led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season, along with the second-best record in the league. He even got to coach in the All-Star game.

Didnít matter.

Swept in the playoffs, swept out of Toronto.

The Raptors were good this season. They werenít great. And they canít beat LeBron James, who has engineered the ouster of Toronto now in each of the last three seasons, the last two of them being sweeps. So Casey paid the price, and with that comes the reminder: Winning isnít enough in this NBA. Coaches must meet expectations, regardless of how misguided they may be.

ĒIn some ways I think the time has come,Ē Raptors President Masai Ujiri said Friday, a few hours after telling Casey that he was done in Toronto. ĒSometimes these things come to an end, relationships come to an end. And weíll figure out a way to move on, a new voice, just a new everything in terms of that position.Ē

Thatís becoming a mantra around the NBA. Last summer, all 30 coaches kept their jobs. Next season on opening night, there will be at least nine coaches in roles they didnít have 365 days earlier.

Lloyd Pierce will be one of them after the Atlanta Hawks gave him his first head coaching job in the NBA on Friday. The former Philadelphia and Memphis assistant replaces Mike Budenholzer, who left last month after the Hawks finished 24-58.

And there are some great names out there: Stan Van Gundy was let go in what seems to have been a power struggle in Detroit. Frank Vogel is a proven coach who didnít have much talent to work with in Orlando. Jeff Hornacek had a deeply flawed roster in New York. Steve Clifford is brilliant, and that couldnít keep him in Charlotte. Budenholzer was the coach of the year in 2015 Chris Jones Jersey (http://www.chiefscheapstore.com/chris-jones-jersey-cheap) , and he and Atlanta apparently stopped seeing eye-to-eye on enough things.

Casey now joins them in the unemployed club.

Letís be clear: Casey was flawed in the East semifinals when James and the Cavaliers won 4-0. There were some peculiar decisions late in Game 1 when Toronto fell in overtime, and no resistance in two games that became blowouts. Casey should have done better, and he shouldnít have offered an end-of-series series assessment that essentially was him saying the rest of the East is helpless until James isnít great anymore.

So Casey had a couple subpar days.

Most days this season, he was brilliant. The National Basketball Coaches Association Ė the 30 NBA coaches Ė picked him as their coach of the year, in large part because of the way he took an already-good Toronto offense, changed it mightily and made it better. A high-risk move, and it paid high dividends. Caseyís peers clearly respected that.

The NBA coach of the year award comes out next month, after The Finals. Thatís picked by a panel of media who cover the league. Casey very likely will win that award as well.

Even Ujiri kept lauding Casey on Friday: Good man. Good coach. Classy person.

Arenít those tough to find?

Dumping a coach after a top-seeded season is rare, but not unprecedented. Cleveland fired Mike Brown in 2010 and wound up losing James to Miami anyway a few weeks later. Rick Carlisle got Detroit to the No. 1 seed in 2003, then got fired and replaced by Larry Brown Ė who led the Pistons to the 2004 NBA title.

Others have left of their own accord: Pat Riley with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990, Phil Jackson in Chicago in 1998, Larry Bird in Indiana in 2000. Bird also fired Isiah Thomas as Pacersí coach in 2003, a few months after Thomas coached in the All-Star Game.

Some of those moves worked out, others not so much.

Ujiri will have good options. Jerry Stackhouse has shown the franchise plenty as coach of the Raptorsí G League team. Many around the NBA are thinking the time is right for Monty Williams to get back on the sideline. Itís only a matter of time before San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina gets his chance to run a club.

Whoever gets the gig in Toronto, and any of the other open NBA jobs, will surely understand the new reality. Good isnít good enough anymore.


Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org


Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden doesn't expect to go looking for another running back after losing promising rookie Derrius Guice to a torn ACL in his left knee in the preseason opener.

"We have guys that are here and in play Brian Poole Jersey (http://www.falconscheapstore.com/brian-poole-jersey-cheap) ," Gruden said, noting that the Redskins drafted Guice because he was the best player available in the 59th spot, "not because we weren't satisfied with the backs we have."

The contenders as the No. 1 back now start with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine.

Kelley, with 16 starts in two seasons, missed most of last season with a variety of injuries but ran for 704 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. Perine made eight starts last season and became the first Redskins running back with consecutive 100-yard performances since Alfred Morris in 2013. He had 603 yards and one TD last season.

Nonetheless, the Redskins' 90.5-yard rushing average was fifth-worst in the NFL, and Guice was looked at as a great find in the second round. Projected as a first-round pick, his stock fell amid reports of character concerns.

Gruden said none of those ever surfaced and he looks forward to Guice being 100 percent next season.

"We're obviously very upset for Derrius. He's put a lot of work in and (had) a very promising rookie season ahead of him, but unfortunately these injuries happen," Gruden said. "... We had high hopes for him and what he could do for this football team and what he would accomplish his rookie year as a person and all that good stuff."

Instead, he's hoping Kelley, Perine or veteran third-down specialist Chris Thompson, who is recovering from a broken fibula last season, can create as much excitement.

"I've been impressed with both of those guys," Gruden said about Kelley and Perine. "A lot of talk has been on Derrius and deservedly so. He's had a great camp and OTAs, but Rob Kelley has lost a little bit of weight. He looks quicker in the hole to me and Samaje just looks more comfortable to me. He had a couple nice licks in the game the other night."

An increased opportunity was secondary in Kelley's mind after practice Saturday.

"It's real tough Bradley Pinion Jersey (http://www.49erscheapstore.com/bradley-pinion-jersey-cheap) ," Kelly said about Guice's injury. "He brought an energy I can't even explain to the room. I feel like everybody in the room feels a certain type of way about that. Just want to go out there and compete for him."

Kelley, based on his own experience with injuries, also offered Guice some advice.

"I just told him to come back stronger than ever, show people what they're missing out on," he said.

Star linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said he learned about Guice's status Friday when he came to the team's practice facility, and "it kind of took me a couple of minutes to get going with my workout and whatnot. ... He was the focal point of 'Skins camp, I would say, so far. I mean, people were wondering how many yards this guy's going to rush for and if they should pick him for their fantasy team. Things like that. People were really excited for him."

In the interim, the season goes on, and the Redskins running backs and everyone else will get to show their stuff against a different team in the next three days as the New York Jets come to Richmond for joint workouts.

"The Jets have a great run defense. They always have," Gruden said. "... So, just to get a different look, different perspective on how they do things, different speed at linebacker, safeties are very Albert McClellan Jersey (http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/albert-mcclellan-jersey-cheap) , very good over there so, we have to account for them. I mean there's a lot of things that they do differently that we'll have to account for and it'll be interesting to see how we adjust. So, running backs, offensive linemen, tight ends in the running game, receivers in the running game. So, I think everybody will get a good-great challenge against these guys."

Notes: The Redskins signed tight end J.P. Holtz, linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive lineman Jalen Wilkerson, waived fullback Elijah Wellman and placed Guice and tight end Manasseh Garner on their reserve-injured list. ... Gruden said defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis has a slight sprained ankle and a slight knee strain and is listed as week-to-week, but added: "Matt's a tough guy and he'll probably get back here tomorrow. He's a nutjob." ... The Jets' arrival means Terrelle Pryor will be back in Richmond. Pryor caught 20 passes last season for the Redskins, but was hobbled by injuries.

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