In the post game report last night, I said how I was reminded of movies where guys are driven out into nowhere to get shot and how Sam’s time would be coming soon after a loss like that. Well, I didn’t expect it to happen that fast, but it’s done.
There was a lot of focus being placed on Sam and his inability to get the Raptors
to where people think they should be right now, but let’s also step back and take a look at what Sam has done here. Let’s not forget that when Sam walked into the Raptors, taking over for Kevin O’Neill, the Raptors
were a mess. They were a team with a lame GM and a lame lineup. Sam was able to keep the Raptors
competitive and when BC took over control of the team, Sam was finally able to do some of the things he wanted because he was able to get some players he needed.
You can’t discount Sam’s coach of the year award that he got a couple of seasons ago. Personally, I thought Jerry Sloan should have won that year, but having Sam win wasn’t a bad choice either. Winning the division was a big step for the organization and there were still gaps in the lineup that Sam managed to deal with.
Sam was never a big X’s and O’s guy. I think we’re actually going to miss using our “Roaches When the Lights Come On” terminology for his playbook and we certainly won’t be able to use it with Jay Triano, who is about as X’s and O’s as you can get. The thing that Sam was able to do (and what eventually became his downfall) was his ability to motivate players. Sam was able to get the best out of his players by challenging them and being able to use his words to show them the kind of player they could be. People might want to throw extra credit at Coach K and Team USA for changing Bosh
into the player he is today, but take a look back at last year and all of the work Sam did with him. Some credit has to go to Sam for showing Bosh
the kind of player he could be and the kind of player he should be…and now is.
Unfortunately for Sam, it was his inability to motivate his players, to get through to them that was his downfall. For some reason, the Raptors
just weren’t listening anymore and maybe it was because Sam really didn’t have anything more to offer to them. Sometimes, a team only has so much use for a certain coach and that was essentially the case with the Raptors
and Sam. Sam had taken them as far as he could and on this long journey, it was time for the Raptors
to get off this train and catch the next one if they wanted to get to the ever elusive “next level.”
So now the question is, “How are the Raptors
going to react to Jay Triano?” Jay is known as a player’s coach and an X’s and O’s guy. I doubt you will ever see the Raptors
coming out of a timeout and looking completely lost again. You definitely won’t see them start a quarter by taking a timeout before the clock even gets going. That’s not his style. Jay will be prepared. But while Jay is well respected in the coaching levels, does he command that same sort of respect from the players? Who knows? He will have the job for at least the rest of the season, so we will get to see some things along the way. I can tell you this: The Raptors
better be ready to run, because Jay isn’t big on the half-court stuff.
As for long term coaching, there are a lot of bad idea names out there right now. Flip Saunders? While he would bring a defensive presence to the Raptors, he has struggled getting teams over the hump. Avery Johnson? He’s a mini-Sam. Van Gundy? Overrated and he likes being in the studio…it’s safe, he knows he won’t be hanging on anybody’s leg. Eddie Jordan? He couldn’t win with stars in the lineup and couldn’t win with them out of the lineup. He’s a decent coach, but what has he really shown that would make him a good fit in Toronto?
The best thing right now is to let Jay do his thing and in the off-season, re-evaluate. But whatever the decision is, it had better be a carefully thought out one, because if you’re Chris Bosh
and you see things moving in the wrong direction, some choices may be easier than others to make.
Nice knowin’ ya Sam, best of luck, you’ll get a shat somewhere else.