The Toronto Raptors announced the firing of Coach Dwane Casey on Friday morning, four days after the Raptors were swept out of the postseason by the Cleveland Cavaliers — and just two days after Casey’s peers chose him as the league’s coach of the year.
Casey became the first member of the Raptors to pay with his job for an early and disappointing end to the season. Toronto posted a franchise-record 59 wins this season to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but after beating Washington in the first round, Toronto sustained a humbling 4-0 sweep by LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference semifinals.
“After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very difficult but necessary step the franchise must take,” Masai Ujiri, Toronto’s team president, said in a statement. “As a team, we are constantly trying to grow and improve in order to get to the next level. We celebrate everything Dwane has done for the organization, we thank him and we wish him nothing but the best in the future. He was instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team, and we are so proud of that.”
On Wednesday, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced Casey as this season’s recipient of the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year award, chosen through a vote of the N.B.A.’s 30 head coaches. Casey is widely considered to be a top contender for the N.B.A.’s own Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by members of the news media and will be announced June 25.
Casey’s dismissal Friday is reminiscent of the 2012-13 season, when the Denver Nuggets fired their coach, George Karl, only 29 days after Karl was named the N.B.A. coach of the year. Ujiri was Denver’s general manager that season and won the N.B.A. Executive of the Year award, but he left to join the Raptors before Karl — who advanced past the first round just once in nine seasons — was let go.
Toronto is one of five teams with a coaching vacancy, joining Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Orlando.
Casey departs with one season left on his contract valued at an estimated $6 million. He is the winningest coach in Raptors history, having posted a 320-238 record in the regular season, including three consecutive 50-win seasons for a franchise that had not previously won 50 games in a year.