Some NBA firings can be seen from a mile away. Others, likewith Dwane Casey, can sneak up as a bit of a surprise; it's not often a 59-win team that earns a No. 1 seed in the playoffs parts ways with its head coach.
"Today was a really difficult day for us and our organization," said Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who informed Casey he was being relieved of his duties on Friday. "It's the hardest thing I've done in my life."
Ujiri was emotional discussing Casey's firing and reflecting upon the value he brought to the Toronto organization, continuously pointing to his character and the culture he helped foster to their prolonged success during his seven seasons. But, put simply, Ujiri and the Toronto brass felt it best to move on from him and usher in a new era.
"There's nothing in particular that coach Casey did wrong, but I think it was time for this to happen," Ujiri said.
Toronto's decision to move on from Casey is one that comes at a unique time for the organization. With DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka all locked up with huge contracts through at least the 2019-2020 season, the franchise could easily be stuck in playoff purgatory centered around a core that, to this point, has been lackluster in the postseason under Casey.
Perhaps a coaching change could help spur a new level of postseason success in Toronto under the same core, but with Philadelphia and Boston building young contenders and LeBron's reign in the East seemingly never-ending, the Raptors' goal of coming out of the East and advancing to the Finals doesn't appear to be any less challenging in the near future.