Raptors show Mitchell door
TORONTO - The Toronto Raptors fired coach Sam Mitchell yesterday and replaced him with assistant Jay Triano, one day after an embarrassing loss at Denver.
Mitchell led the Raptors to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and was honored as the NBA's Coach of the Year for 2006-07. Toronto was off to a sluggish 8-9 start, due in part to injuries.
General manager Bryan Colangelo said Tuesday night's 132-93 loss to the Nuggets was the final straw. Toronto allowed Denver to shoot 60 percent from the field and the Nuggets' 37 assists were the most by an NBA team in regulation this season. The 39-point difference marked the fifth-worst loss in franchise history.
"Obviously, [Tuesday night's] game was just an absolute kick to the gut," Colangelo said. "When you look back, it's a culmination of things. Expectations are high. We want to win."
Mitchell is the third NBA coach to be replaced this season. Oklahoma City fired P.J. Carlesimo and Washington dismissed Eddie Jordan last month.
"I have a lot to be thankful for, they really gave me the opportunity to have a career in coaching, something I always wanted to do after I played," Mitchell told Canadian sports network TSN. "So, yeah, it's a disappointment that I really wasn't given the chance to finish what I started, but you know what, I feel like I accomplished a lot of good things. I think the players that played for me all got better."
Colangelo said Triano, the first Canadian head coach in NBA history, likely would be in charge for the rest of the season.