Regardless of his accomplishments this season, and regardless of whatever rhetoric comes out of the Raptors’ front office, Sam Mitchell will not return as the team’s coach next season.
This is the word from Sam Smith, a veteran NBA reporter who has terrific contacts and, unlike too many who cover basketball in Toronto, is not interested in perpetuating myths about the Raptors.
“General manager Bryan Colangelo has said the right things about supporting and bringing back Mitchell,” Smith reports, “(but) the belief is he remains uncomfortable with Mitchell, whom he did not hire. Also, it was no secret Colangelo was forceful in getting Mitchell to accept and play rookie Andrea Bargnani. There appears to be something of a power struggle going on with (Raps president) Richard Peddie openly supporting Mitchell’s return, apparently to push Colangelo. But the feeling is Colangelo will use the power of his turnaround of the franchise to bring in his own coach.
“Though Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni often is mentioned as a successor, rumours lately have Colangelo continuing the European style and bringing in a protégé of Raptors assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini from Benetton Treviso. A Raptors first-round playoff loss to the Nets would likely mute the public and media demands for Mitchell’s rehiring.”
Smith thinks Mitchell might replace Rick Carlisle as the Indiana Pacers’ coach.
• Here’s hoping Toronto fans are intelligent enough to wear something other than red jerseys at the Air Canada Centre tonight for the second game of the Raptors’ playoff series against New Jersey.
I mean, shrewdly, the Nets are wearing red themselves. Talk about embarrassing.
The Raps were awful Saturday. Mitchell coached poorly, choosing to bench Chris Bosh for too long a period, deliberately leaving Jason Kidd open too often and playing a disoriented Joey Graham far too long.
It was a bad day also for TSN, with homer analysts off base. Brian Heaney, for instance, vowed early in the broadcast that Bosh would bounce back from his early woes with “a great performance.” Didn’t happen.
And I guess colour commentator Leo Rautins can be forgiven for referring to the Raptors’ Anthony Parker as Anthony Carter. Vince Carter, presumably, was on Leo’s brain.
• How about the usually laid-back Tracy McGrady taking charge in Houston and insisting that, if the Rockets don’t advance this season, it will be his fault?
“It’s my team,” he said, “and, if we don’t win, it’ll be on me.”
So determined is McGrady this post-season that he actually has switched off all his phones and communication devices.
“I’m more focused now,” he said.