Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

After one year of coaching for the Toronto Raptors, Kevin O’Neill has been dismissed from the club as of Friday, April 16. This was “a day after the rookie head coach levelled harsh criticism at the NBA team during its annual seaason wrapup,” according to The Vancouver Sun. Apparently, it is spring cleaning for the Raptors. Earlier in the month, longtime General Manager, Glen Grunwald, was fired. Along with two important people to the club, the team also axed four of five assistant coaches, Tony Brown, Bob Beyer, Jim Sann and Rob Oliver.

“This season fell well short of our expectations and while the blame for that certainly does not rest on Kevin O’Neill and his staff alone, we felt that the team’s lack of success on the court, and the fact that we are committed to providing the general manager with every opportunity to succeed, necessitated this change,” said interim General Manager Jack McCloskey, which was stated in The Vancouver Sun.

When hiring Kevin O’Neill the Raptors were hoping for “a workaholic and a fierce taskmaster, [who] would instill some passion and work ethic into a team that had gone softer after three seasons,” according to The Vancouver Sun. The Raptors were heading in the right direction, with a change in discipline and defense, but with both injuries and trades, the team was heading toward a downward spiral. There was a six-player trade with the Chicago Bulls in December, which made the team learn how to play with six new players.

Along with the trade came an assortment of injuries to multiple players. First, Carter had injuries to his ankle and quadriceps, which kept him from playing in nine games, where the Raptors went 0-9 in his absence. Next was Jalen Rose, who miss 16 games due to a broken left hand. Along came Alvin Williams who sat on the bench for 25 games with problems to the ankle and knee. These three players were the Raptors’ starters. Michael Curry had surgery on his elbow, causing him to missed 12 games, and rookie foward, Chris Bosh had to struggle with an ankle injury.

Due to these unforseen problems, the Raptors went 33-49 for this season and missed the playoffs for a second straight year.

O’Neill was first with the Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy. Next came a lead assistant position in Detroit under Rick Carlisle. There he was responsible for getting the Pistons to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Along with coaching for the NBA, he also was a head coach for NCAA schools Northwestern, Tennesse, and Marquette.

O’Neill feels that the franchise is more excited being part of the NBA rather than winning. “I can just tell you right now, the focus is not on winning here all the way through the organization all the time. There needs to be drastic measures taken,” said O’Neill on Thursday, during the post-season news conference.

One last thing that was added by McCloskey was, “This franchise has everything required to build a team capable of contending for an NBA championship. We have a core group of talented players, committed ownership, terrific fans that support our team win or lose, and a great arena in a great city. There has been considerable interest in our general manager’s position from the type of quality candidates that you want. We’re going to bring in an outstanding general manager and a acoaching staff that is going to get this team back in the direction that it wass two years ago. I’m very excited about the future for the Toronto Raptors.”

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