Raptors Notes: Casey, Valanciunas, Lowry, DeRozan

Rival executives expect the Raptors to make a coaching change if they can’t rally from a 3-0 deficit against the Cavaliers, writes Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. Dwane Casey is a Coach of the Year candidate after leading Toronto to a 59-win season, but his lack of playoff success may have caught up to him.

Toronto has three qualified replacements in its organization in assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian and G League coach Jerry Stackhouse. Nurse, who recently interviewed with the Suns and Hornets about their head coaching vacancies, would be the favorite to take over if Casey is dismissed, according to O’Connor, who adds that Nurse played a bigger role than Casey in the changes the Raptors made to their offensive system.

There’s more today out of Toronto:

  • The series with the Cavaliers is displaying the problems with Toronto’s roster, O’Connor notes in the same story. The Raptors are short on defenders at the wing and forward, their big men aren’t versatile enough for the modern NBA game and they don’t have a superstar who can be the best player on the court in a playoff series. O’Connor states that even if LeBron James heads to the Western Conference in free agency, the Raptors will have difficulty getting past the Celtics or Sixers in the future.
  • With Toronto already in tax territory for next season and this year’s draft picks dealt away, O’Connor points to trades as the only realistic way to improve. He notes that the Raptors had interest in DeAndre Jordan before this year’s deadline and may explore that route again if he opts in. O’Connor states that a young player like Jakob Poeltl or Delon Wright would have to be included along with Jonas Valanciunas to get the Clippers’ interest. He suggests offering Lowry, C.J. Miles and Pascal Siakam to the Wolves for Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins. That would free Minnesota from the cap-clogging contract it gave to Wiggins, and it would pair Lowry and Jimmy Butler, who became friends during their Olympics experience.
  • DeMar DeRozan had his worst postseason game Saturday with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and was benched for the final 14 minutes, notes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Casey told reporters not to read too much into the move and expressed confidence that DeRozan will get back to normal. “He had a tough night,” Casey said. “He wasn’t the reason we lost. We are professionals, he’s a pro. He has had tough games before, he’ll bounce back. But we have one more game, our pride is on the line, basically our season is on the line, but I think he’ll bounce back.”
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