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Rumor: NBA executives anticipate Raptors firing Dwane Casey

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors looks on from the sideline in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Dwane Casey overhauled the Raptors’ offense. He empowered Toronto’s young bench. He got the team to buy in defensively.

Yet, the Raptors once again trail LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs.

Toronto is down 3-0 entering tonight’s Game 4 in Cleveland. Could this be Casey’s last game coaching the Raptors?

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Executives around the league anticipate that the Raptors will make a coaching change, though there are no guarantees after Toronto’s success this regular season.

Casey did an excellent job this regular season, leading Toronto to a franchise-record 59 wins. The Raptors – third in offensive rating, fifth in defensive rating – were the only team top five in both categories. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan grew as players and were All-Stars.

But getting swept by the Cavs would be another crushing end for the Raptors, who’ve flamed out in the postseason annually under Casey. At this point, Casey just sounds defeated.

I tend to think – considering the Raptors are fairly locked into their current roster – they should stay the course with Casey. He’s a good coach and another year with the new system could pay dividends. Maybe LeBron James signs with a Western Conference team or finally declines significantly with age or gets hurt. Toronto might catch a break. Would any coach have gotten the Raptors past LeBron these last three years?

But maybe Casey has taken the Raptors as far as he can. He’s been on the hot seat for years. At some point, that could weigh on everyone involved.

If Casey gets fired, it sets up an awkward possibility – him winning Coach of the Year while out of a job or working elsewhere. It was stunning enough when the Nuggets fired George Karl weeks after he won the award. But the NBA’s new award show means Toronto could easily move on from Casey before the 2018 Coach of the Year is revealed June 25.