Dwane Casey Reportedly Would Have Been Fired If Raptors Lost Series vs. Pacers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2016

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey reacts against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was reportedly on the chopping block if the Indiana Pacers would have eliminated Toronto in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reported Tuesday, citing several league sources, that Casey would have been let go if the Raptors didn't emerge victorious from the seven-game series. They have since advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The timing of the revelation could cause a distraction as the Raptors continue to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers for the East title. That said, the information isn't a total surprise.

After missing the playoffs completely during Casey's first two years in charge, Toronto got knocked out of the postseason in the first round each of the last two campaigns. A third straight result of that nature would have forced the team to consider whether it was making the necessary progress.

The report does contrast with comments made by general manager Masai Ujiri in April, though. Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports noted the GM stated the coach had been "phenomenal."

Ujiri added: "He deserves to be our coach in the future."

Of course, he could have walked back those comments after another first-round exit and fired Casey anyway, pointing to the team's desire to win a championship as the reason for the change of heart.

The scenario is no longer in play, however. The Raptors managed to survive that extended series with the Pacers and continued to roll toward the Finals. They edged the Miami Heat in another seven-game series and are now tied with Cleveland through four games.

It could cause a minor distraction if Casey is forced to answer questions about his job status in the coming days, but it's really a moot point. He should be back on the sidelines in Toronto next season, regardless of the result against the Cavs, barring a shocking turn of events.

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