There are some coaches, despite watching several years' worth of games that they're ostensibly in charge of, that you just can't get a handle on.
Often these coaches are either asked to step in to coach very good teams (someone like Paul Westphal, back in his time with Phoenix), but because very good teams are so few and far between, more often than not these coaches come in the form of someone like Jay Triano. Jay Triano (who was recently let go by the Toronto Raptors) had to coach the Raps for the last few seasons, he was given a mostly terrible roster to work with, and we never could get a good read on the guy as a result.
Luckily, Holly MacKenzie gave us a good read on the guy, over at RaptorsBlog:
Spend any time around Triano and it's easy to see why his players worked hard for him. He quietly demands respect, but he gives it, too. He's a teacher. Whether it's a player, an assistant or media member who isn't clear on why he has chosen to do something, ask and Triano will take the time to tell you. If that didn't clear up your question, he will physically take you to the court and show you the who, what, why, where and how. He's a basketball junkie in the truest sense of the word. He just wants to make the game better.
He's a coach. He wants to help you become better at the game you love. Whether you're the highly-touted 9th pick in the draft or the D-League alum that was an offseason trade throw in, show up ready to work and Triano will be there waiting to work you out. A media member with a question that will take too long to ask in a scrum? Shoot him an email and he'll have an exchange with you where he challenges you, encouraging you to think about the how and why before simply giving you the answer.
Year in and year out, coaches both of the retread or first-time variety get let go after posting terrible records as head men, but few leave us with the sort of pause that comes with ruminating on a guy's potential.
I'm not going to tell you that the Raptors erred in letting Triano go. Even if he's the type of coach that could put a team over the top, at some point every team tunes out a coach, no matter how good he is. Not sure if you noticed, but Phil Jackson's team was swept out of the playoffs last month.
But Triano clearly knows the game, he worked at his gig with the Raptors, and he obviously has respect around the league. And the guy was dealt a bum hand.
Chris Bosh more than earned his All-NBA plaudits from 2009-10, but beyond that Triano was left to coach a freak show. Could you imagine trying to score on a frontcourt featuring both Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu? I can. It helps me go to sleep at night, thinking of all those layups.
Triano's goose was cooked as soon as the Raptors hired P.J. Carlesimo and his hefty salary to take to the Toronto bench, but that doesn't mean that this will be the last time we'll hear from him. The Raptors players definitely gave up on Triano in 2010-11, but the rest of the NBA gave up on these Raptors long before that. Things have a way of evening out, sadly.
- Jay Triano