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Lewenberg: Raptors to lock up Casey for three more years

Josh Lewenberg
5/6/2014 12:23:56 AM
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TORONTO - Masai Ujiri wasted little time in making his first move of the offseason.

Just one day after their season came to an abrupt end, the Raptors have reached an agreement on a three-year contract extension with head coach Dwane Casey, sources confirm to TSN.ca Monday evening.

In his third year with the team, Casey, 57, helped lead the Raptors to a franchise-record 48-win season en route to a division title and opening-round elimination to the Brooklyn Nets in a seven-game playoff series.

Addressing the media after cleaning out their lockers Monday afternoon, Casey's players seemed to be aware of the team's plans to bring him back.

"I think he'll be back," said Kyle Lowry, an unrestricted free agent. "Simple as that. Matter of fact, I'm sure he'll be back."

Casey was brought in by former Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo ahead of the 2010-11 season after he had won a championship as an assistant in Dallas the year prior. Right out of the gate, he took a team that had ranked near the bottom of the league in every defensive category, a long-time NBA doormat, and immediately changed the culture.

After his third-year option was picked up, Casey had mixed results at the helm of the Raptors in his second season, getting off to a slow start and clashing with Lowry. Instead of discarding Casey for his own coach, Ujiri - the incoming GM - opted to give him a one-year trial, to which he did not disappoint. Both he and Lowry developed a mutual respect, as the point guard turned in a career year, DeMar DeRozan blossomed into an all-star and the team went on to exceed every rationale pre-season expectation.

Casey became the fourth coach in franchise history to lead the Raptors to the postseason and his fingerprints can be found on the development of Toronto's many young players.

"He's been a great coach," sophomore Terrence Ross said Monday. "He's helped me with a lot. He's taught me a lot, especially when it comes to defence. I give him a lot of credit for how I play on the court."

"One thing I respect about coach Casey, man, he's been consistent," DeRozan added. "He's been the same Dwane Casey since he's been here, preached the same thing, told us to stick with the same principles and they'll work. We did it, and everything he said came together like he said it would."

"You could go in his office, knock on his door, talk to him whenever, you could text him," he continued. "He's a player's coach. He's a great dude. Sometimes you don't even look at him like a coach because you could go up to him and talk to Dwane about any situation. I think that's what helped us a lot."

Casey ranks third in team history with 105 wins, behind Sam Mitchell and Lenny Wilkens and recently became the first coach to lead the Raptors to multiple seasons holding opponents under 100 points and below 45 per cent from the field.

The deal was first reported by the Toronto Star Monday evening. Casey and Ujiri will meet with the media on Tuesday. Watch it live on TSN, TSN.ca and TSN GO at 10:15am et/7:15am pt.

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