The Raptors may be looking at a complete overhaul if they lose tonight’s Game 7 against the Pacers, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. GM Masai Ujiri gave coach Dwane Casey a vote of confidence before the playoffs began, but Wolstat expects a coaching change if the Raptors don’t win this series. A loss could also affect the team’s desire to give max money to shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who will become a free agent in July. The two-time All-Star has seen his production drop in the playoffs, and Wolstat says many in the organization are losing faith that he will ever become an effective postseason player. “You don’t really get caught up with what everybody’s saying, what everybody’s writing, what people who probably never played basketball in their life have got to say about it, other people’s opinions,” DeRozan said. “You just go home, whether you hang with your family, watch the film and just get ready for tomorrow.” A loss may also affect the future of point guard Kyle Lowry, who can opt out after next season and will be seeking a max deal at age 31. Center Bismack Biyombo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Raptors may have to move some salary if they want to keep him. That could mean not re-signing DeRozan or trading backup swingman Terrence Ross.
There’s more pregame news out of Toronto:
- If Casey does get fired, he has done enough with the Raptors to land another head coaching job, Wolstat tweets. Casey has a 210-184 regular season record in five seasons with Toronto but has never won a playoff series.
- The Raptors are pleased with the development of rookie shooting guard Norman Powell, but that won’t affect their decision on DeRozan, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Powell, a second-round pick whom Toronto acquired from the Bucks on draft night, spent much of the season in the D-League but averaged 5.6 points per night in 49 games with the Raptors.
- Casey acknowledges the “heavy burden of history” hanging over the Raptors as they enter Game 7, relays Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. Toronto, which claimed the second seed in the East with a 56-26 regular season record, is coming off playoff disappointments against the Nets and Wizards the past two seasons. “It means everything for us to advance,” DeRozan said. “The season would be a failure if we don’t make it out of this first round.”