Raptors fire Dwane Casey as head coach

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Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri made the firing of seven-year head coach Dwane Casey official on Friday morning with a statement, but apparently, the writing was actually on the wall after Game 3 of their second round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ultimately someone had to pay the price for the Raptors' failure to get past Cleveland for the third consecutive season. He was the longest-tenured coach in team history and is the franchise's all-time winningest coach. Although it seems unfair to fire Casey and not give him another year, the blunder of being swept and losing 10 straight playoff games to the same team invites unwanted questions.

Ujiri thanked Casey for what he's done for the organization, saying Casey was "instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team".

Casey posted a 320-238 (.573) overall record at the helm of the Raptors, the team's regular-season record improving in all but one of Casey's seven seasons.

He was put into the spotlight in his final season with the Mavs after the team found a way to shut down the surging Miami Heat, led by James, en route to winning their first NBA Championship.

Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry spoke of Dwane Casey in glowing terms hours after the Raptors fired the head coach on Friday. Less than two months into that season, Ujiri nearly blew up the roster - Kyle Lowry literally had his bags packed for NY before Knicks owner James Dolan backed out of a trade - but the Raptors ended up turning their season around and making the playoffs, ending a five-year drought. In 2017, Casey waited until Game 4 to start P.J. Tucker, the Raptors' defender, and match him up with James.

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Making matters more awkward, National Basketball Association coaches recently voted Casey as the coach of the 2017-18 season in a coaches-only vote, according to The New York Times' Marc Stein.

One name that ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski linked to Toronto was former Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer.

And while Ujiri didn't say that Casey's playoff failures were the reason for his dismissal, and he said he hadn't spoken with Lowry or DeRozan until he let them know that he was getting rid of their coach, what those players said when the season ended must have factored into Casey's exit.

"It's the hardest thing I've done in my life", Ujiri said. "We'll look everywhere. I'm not ruling out anything".

The next season, the Raptors made a franchising altering move trading Gary Forbes along with a 2013 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets.