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Report: Dwane Casey also holding grudge, not speaking to Raptors president Masai Ujiri

Masai Ujiri, Dwane Casey

Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri, left, and head coach Dwane Casey address the media during an NBA basketball news conference, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Casey has agreed to a three-year contract extension after Toronto won a franchise-record 48 games this season. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Galit Rodan)


DeMar DeRozan – bitter about how he got traded from Toronto – isn’t talking to Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

DeRozan apparently isn’t the only one.

Dwane Casey – reportedly on poor terms with his successor as Raptors coach, Nick Nurse – also reportedly has a rift with Ujiri.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

He and Ujiri still haven’t spoken and, according to sources, Casey is still harbouring plenty of resentment towards his former boss.

Casey had a historically good record for a coach who got fired. He guided the team to that success while doing things Ujiri wanted – revamping the offense and empowering young players.

I’d understand if Casey felt he did everything he could and still got fired. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it could lead to animosity toward the person who forced it down his throat.

Running an NBA team can be a messy business, and even if Ujiri treated Casey and DeRozan perfectly fairly, relationships are hard to maintain when firing and trading people. Toronto’s repeated playoff failures with Casey and DeRozan are impossible to ignore, and it’s Ujiri’s job to fix that problem.

But Casey, who landed on his feet with the Pistons, is a good coach. The best possible explanation for firing Casey I saw: Even if the Raptors didn’t believe Casey was the problem, he might have been. Changing coaches was their best way to increase variance and raise their ceiling. After all, it’s usually too hard to change the key players.

But Toronto did change the key players, acquiring Kawhi Leonard. Suddenly, the Raptors have newfound championship potential. It’ll take many breaks, especially Leonard staying on the court. But it’s possible.

I wonder – in hindsight, knowing he’d acquire Leonard – whether Ujiri wishes he kept Casey rather than turning the reigns to a first-time head coach.