In almost equal parts defiant and confident, Bryan Colangelo is unequivocal about the next step for the Raptors:
The playoffs.
“I will take that squarely on my shoulders and say that is the new expectation going into next year,” Colangelo said Monday morning, wrapping up the fifth-straight non-playoff season for the franchise.
Coming off a 34-48 season that was ruined by a 4-19 start and make marginally tenable but a strong finish, Colangelo offered an impassioned defence of coach Dwane Casey.
“I can absolutely tell you that coach Casey and I get along in a way that most coaches and management people do: We challenge each other.”
The future of Colangelo — and by extension Casey — is a bit cloudy. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment holds an option year on Colangelo and has yet to give an indication either way on whether he will be retained.
And with Casey also entering a final, guaranteed year of a three-year deal, until something is said with finality, questions will abound.
“I’m anticipating that will be resolved in the next two or three weeks,” Colangelo said of his future.
“If I am back, there is no question who the coach will be. Dwane Casey is the coach.”
While not as adamant as his boss, Casey also said he approaches next season with one legitimate goal in mind. It’s no longer about getting young players ready to NBAers, it’s about making them winners.
“Next year, the challenge will be to win,” he said. “But that’s the challenge on every coach, to win.
“I’m in the final year of the contract so that adds a little bit of pressure to that but winning should be always the bottom line and is the bottom line.”