The day after getting cracked by 39 points in Denver, the Raptors (8-9) have fired coach Sam Mitchell, who just two seasons ago won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. Assistant Jay Triano has been named the interim coach.
“This is a difficult but necessary step the franchise must take,” GM Bryan Colangelo said in a news release. “We appreciate all that Sam has done for the organization, applaud him for his successes and wish him nothing but the best with his future in basketball.”
Reading from comments made by Jermaine O’Neal in the Toronto Sun after the Denver loss, you can see what some of the internal issues were:
“I wanted to talk to the guys,” O’Neal said. “It’s important we understand what we’re doing here. This is a business and we get paid a heck of a lot of money to play. If we think we can turn it on and turn it off, we’re fooling ourselves. I’ve been in situations (with Portland and Indiana) where we thought we could do that.
“I haven’t been here long enough to know the character of this team, long-term. I can only talk about the situation now. As players, we have to address it and we have to want to win. We have to basically figure out if we want to win this season or be an average team. That’s what it boils down to.”