On Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors fired Sam Mitchell, the team’s head coach. With the Raptors at 8-9, the organization decided to go in a new direction in hopes of becoming one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Mitchell’s firing was a bit of a surprise, especially considering that he was the named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2006-07 season. Last year, the Raptors went 41-41 and another season around .500 simply wasn’t going to be good enough.
That said, Mitchell was hurt by a number of decisions by general manager Bryan Colangelo. First and foremost, Andrea Bargnani hurt Mitchell more than any coaching move he made during his tenure. Bargnani was selected by Colangelo as the first overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. To date, the native of Italy has been a major disappointment.
Another mistake Colangelo was giving big money to Jason Kapono. Although Kapono is an accomplished three-point shooter, he’s a very poor defender who doesn’t have good shot selection. Roko Ukic and Will Solomon were brought in this season from overseas to compete for the backup point guard position and both have also been very ineffective.
Colangelo, who was brought in from the Phoenix Suns to run the basketball operations of the Raptors, doesn’t have much to show for his stint in Phoenix. His two best players, power forward Chris Bosh and point guard Jose Calderon, were both already on the team when Colangelo arrived. His big move this summer was to acquire Jermaine O’Neal from the Indiana Pacers, but O’Neal hasn’t lived up to his billing so far.
Jay Triano has been named the interim head coach after Mitchell’s firing. If Triano isn’t able to turn around the Raptors and make them into a top flight team, the blame game might have to start considering Colangelo as the man most responsible.