It wasn’t quite the free agent signing the Raptor fans were hoping for, but it was a significant one just the same as PJ Carlesimo was added to the Raptors coaching staff.
PJ has been around the league a long time coaching with Seattle, Golden State, Portland, San Antonio and most recently with Oklahoma. He is a tough coach and is well-known for his defense. When coaching in Portland his team was a defensive presence and made it to the first round of the playoffs in Carlesimo’s first season there. In San Antonio as Greg Popovitch’s right hand man, he helped turn the Spurs into more of a defensive presence and three NBA titles.
The guy can coach. He’s been around and isn’t afraid to take a front seat or a backseat. He wants to help his team win. He is straight forward and no-nonsense, and preaches defense. He also brings a no-nonsense attitude. He is not going to let players phone it in. Bargnani will be asked to rebound, Calderon will be asked to push the ball and if Turkoglu is with the team, will be asked to put his back into it.
Defense is at the core of Carlesimo’s mantra and it is also something the Raptors could use a lot of help with as it has been their achilles heel almost every year. Opposing teams score way too many points on them and the Raptors have a really hard time making stops late in ball games.
Perhaps this signals a change in philosophy for Bryan Colangelo. Perhaps defense is going to be a focus this coming season. We certainly know there is going to be a whole lot of change. This is simply one step in the staircase.
Jay Triano, although a great tactician at times, is still new to the head coaching scene in the NBA. Having Alex English, Marc Iavroni and PJ Carlesimo around to support your team is going to take a lot of pressure off Triano in terms of making decisions. It will also keep just enough pressure on Triano, as he knows all three of those assistants could take his job if he falters.
Regardless of how you look at this move, it is a step in the right direction and one the Raptor organization should have taken a long time ago. Although I guess it ruins the chances of convincing Latrell Sprewell to come out of retirement this off-season.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald