Chisholm: Firing Triano not the answer for struggling Raptors

Tim Chisholm
11/11/2010 6:05:49 PM
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With every passing day the chorus grows a little louder: Fire Jay Triano.

With every mounting loss the frustrated fan base pleads for the head of their team's coach on a platter. Their team isn't winning and they want someone, anyone, to pay for it. The question as it pertains to Jay, though, is why now?

Look up and down Raptors' roster. Seriously, open a new tab in your browser and look up the team's fifteen-man roster. I'll wait…

Now, which coach, exactly, do you see leading that squad to any meaningful apex this season? In the pantheon of great coaches that have patrolled NBA sidelines, which one is taking a team led by Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan and turning them into a formidable outfit?

To fire Triano now would be useless. To fire Triano next month would be equally so. This is a bad roster, a fact that is proven every night as guys blow defensive assignments, turn the ball over, force bad shots and play with intensity only when the mood strikes them.

Management is strictly dedicated to talent evaluations right now; seeing whom, if anyone, is going to rise above the muck to make a name for themselves without superstar competition in front of them to keep them from emerging. They want to see how Bargnani deals with double teams. They want to see how DeRozan creates shots for himself. They want to see how Jarrett Jack runs an offense without a star. They want to see how Sonny Weems balances playing time with shot accumulation. They want to see a host of other things with each member of their roster so that they can make appropriate transactions to improve the club for the future.

Triano, too, stands among those being evaluated.

They want to see how he does coaching a team without a crutch (read: superstar). They want to see how he handles drawing up end-of-clock schemes. They want to see how he handles divvying up minutes, and if he can shorten a rotation, even if it means offending some of his players. They want to see how he manages to keep the club focused as the losses pile up. They want to see how all of this plays itself out over the course of the season and then, if they feel he hasn't proven himself worthy of continued employment, they'll fire him.

What other choice makes sense? Promote P.J. Carlesimo to the big chair? The man with a losing record as an NBA head coach that was fired for leading the Kevin Durant Thunder to a 1-12 start in 2008 – that's the man that is going to reverse the direction of this team? Look, Carlesimo is a tremendous assistant coach, and with veteran talent to lead he has proven to be a capable head coach, but he is not taking the reigns of this Raptors squad and placing them on a winning path. Nor, for that matter, is anyone else.

Anyone the Raptors brought in this season, barring major roster changes via trade, would inherit a roster that is simply ill-equipped to win consistently at an NBA level.

Everyone knew this club was talent depleted going into the season, and this roster is not meant to represent where the team is heading down the road. It's a transition year where some youth will be evaluated and a high draft pick will be attained. Firing a coach for amassing a 1-7 record under those circumstances is not a fireable offense. Not because Triano is so talented a coach that the team must keep him in house, but because at this point you'd just be changing the coach for the sake of changing a coach. It would be an arbitrary decision and teams looking to earn respectability don't make arbitrary decisions. If this team is going to lose all season anyway (and it bears repeating yet again that with this roster a season of losing is what's in store), then fire the coach at the end of the year if he hasn't lived up to management's expectations, not today.

The onus right now is on Bryan Colangelo, not Jay Triano. Colangelo has to decide whether or not there are moves to be made this season to improve the future of the Raptors, or if a high draft pick and cap space next summer are the pieces he'll use to rebuild the foundation of this club. It's for him to create a roster with promise and potential and then match the right coach to that situation. If he starts loading the roster with talent during the season and Triano continues to lose then, okay, a firing would be justified. However, if the big moves aren't going to come until next summer and beyond, what point would he be trying to prove by firing his coach today?

Everyone knows that this team has become a downer to watch. Their loss on Wednesday to the Bobcats was a sobering realization of just how incapable this team is of mounting a respectable attack against even a weak opponent. Watching Stephen Jackson literally remove the ball from Bargnani's hand with minimal effort on a do-or-die final play was an embarrassment. However, changing the coach today or tomorrow is not going to make this team any more competitive and it would just refocus the ire on a new lame-duck that fans would want fired shortly after another elongated losing spell.

If Triano is going to be fired then he'll be dealt with swiftly at the end of the season. Losing semi-close game after semi-close game won't be enough to get him canned mid-season because this season isn't being measured in wins.

If this season continues on as poorly as it has started then fans will one day get their wish and see Triano removed from his job, but for those looking for an early Christmas present you may want to focus your attention elsewhere because firing Triano now wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for this Raptors' organization.

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