Toronto Raptors Eye Replacement for Triano

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FOLLOW LAWRENCE DUSHENSKI ON TWITTER @LD10 & NPH @NORTHPOLEHOOPS

TORONTO,ON–Word broke recently that the Toronto Raptors were parting ways with Jay Triano as their head coach. After two seasons at the helm of Canada’s lone NBA team, the Niagara Falls native will be given an advisory position within the organization, but needless to say it was a sad day in Raptor nation.

Triano did not have much success with the Raptors in terms of wins and losses, but he also did not have much to work with after Chris Bosh made his way to South Beach last summer. But now it is time for Bryan Colangelo, with his newly signed contract, to find a new coach for the team as they continue to rebuild and redefine themselves in the suddenly competitive Eastern Conference.

So here is a look at some of the potential candidates for the job. Whoever gets the gig will inherit a roster with rising star DeMar DeRozan, promising young big man Ed Davis and guard Jerryd Bayless who has the potential to become a solid combo guard in the league. The Raptors also have the 5th overall pick in this years draft, and will add another young piece to the mix.

Lawrence Frank is a name that has been swirling around Raptor nation; Frank was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets from 2004-2009, and was on Doc Rivers staff as an assistant this past season. He is seen to be an intelligent and calculated coach that could bring some youth and energy to the Raptors team that is need of a lift.

Frank is surely looking to get back into the ring as a head coach, and could run the Raptors in whatever direction he likes. Doc Rivers just resigned a lengthy extension with the Celtics, so it is very unlikely that he will ever get the chance to take over in Boston.

Mike D’Antoni was one of the names that was thrown around as soon as the axe was dropped on Triano. Due to his relationship with Colangelo from their days in Phoenix, it was easy for people to jump to the conclusion that they could reunite north of the border. Some were quick to point to the fact that D’Antoni still has a year remaining on his contract, and has a lineup with Amar’e and Carmelo in New York. So why would he leave?

Well, word broke yesterday that Donnie Walsh was on his way out as the President of the Knicks, so it is clear that there is some unrest in Knick land. This could mean that D’Antoni could be the next one heading out of town, depending on how owner James Dolan wants to deal with the situation. Rumors are about that the prodigal child, Isiah Thomas, could return to take over the Knicks and likely lead them down another terrible path.

So the Raptors might be able to benefit from the uncertainty surrounding the Knicks and possibly swoop in and hire D’Antoni. He surely would not bring anything resembling defensive responsibility to the Raptors team that is sorely in need of it. His teams in Phoenix and New York are known for being run-and-gun with nothing resembling defence. This might work as a temporary stopgap for the Raptors, but it is surely not a longterm solution for the franchise.

Now the unknown dark horse. Mike Budenholzer.

Who?

Budenholzer has been main assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio since the 2007-2008 season, and is seen to be a defensive specialist that has been vital to the system that the Spurs have become known for over the years. He is surely not the flashiest of coaches, but he might be just what the Raptors need to become a complete team.

Toronto possesses the talented offensive power who are gradually developing into complete players in the league. The Raps are currently in search of a focused coach who will take them to that next level. Colangelo only has two years guaranteed on his new deal; it is likely he will try to make a big splash and go for a recognized name as the next head coach.

Which direction will the Raptors go? Maybe they go with someone like Larry Brown, who will if nothing else bring a recognized name to town. Or Lawrence Frank, who could be running up and down the sidelines at the Air Canada Centre next season. On the other hand, the organization could be in search of candidates beyond the names mentioned.

The question remains: who should the Raptors hire as their new head coach?  

PHOTO COURTESY: Bello/ Getty

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