CLEVELAND (AP)—Lenny Wilkens didn’t dwell on his future in Toronto. Soon, he may not have to worry about it anyway.
Wilkens, the NBA’s career leader in coaching wins and losses, probably coached the Raptors for the final time Wednesday night in a 96-86 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 65-year-old Wilkens is expected to be fired by Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald.
“It’s been a tough year and the season is over and now we’ve got to move on and decide what we are going to do,” Wilkens said.
Wilkens was reluctant to address questions about whether it was his last game.
“We’ll find out soon,” he said. “I don’t have any emotions right now, OK? We’ll deal with that when it comes to that.”
The teams will have the most pingpong balls—225—in the May 22 lottery, and therefore the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick, expected to be Akron high school star LeBron James.
“I don’t even care about that,” said Cavs forward Darius Miles, who autographed eight pairs of sneakers and tossed them into the seats following the game. “It’s been a long year.”
Wilkens rarely had a full roster to work with this season as the Raptors were ravaged by injuries. Vince Carter missed nearly half the season with knee and ankle injuries.
Toronto, which didn’t dress 12 players for any game this season, lost its last eight and finished with its worst record since 1997-98 when the Raptors went 16-66.
Raptors guard Morris Peterson said Wilkens handled the adversity the best he could.
“I think it’s on how everything came down on him,” Peterson said. “I think under the circumstances he did a good job. He’s a Hall of Fame player and coach and he knows what to do. Losing a guy like him is a great loss, you lose a legend.”
The Cavs, who unveiled a new logo, colors and uniforms for next season, played without leading scorer Ricky Davis, who sprained an ankle in Monday’s loss at Detroit.
However, Brown and Smush Parker (17 points) picked up the scoring slack for the Cavs, who led 83-79 with four minutes left.
But Chris Mihm scored on a dunk, Brown hit a jumper and Cleveland pushed its lead back to 91-81 with two minutes remaining.
Alston’s 3-pointer closed Toronto within seven before Brown, who signed with Cleveland midway through the year after playing in the NBDL, converted a 3-point play to put the Cavs up by 10 with 1:12 left.
Cleveland’s win may have also been the final game for interim coach Keith Smart, who went 9-31 after replacing John Lucas. Smart hopes the team considers him for the full-time position.
“I did what I was supposed to do,” Smart said. “I tried to bring along the players and develop them. Maybe I shouldn’t be judged on how well we played and won games, but that I can run a team.
“In given time, I’ll be able to show that I can put together a nicepackage.”
Wilkens has a 1,292-1,114 career mark. … The Cavaliers unveiled their new look for next season. The club is returning to wine and gold, their color scheme from 1970-83 and a logo which will include a sword piercing the word “Cavaliers.” … At halftime, former Cavs Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, Mark Price, Bingo Smith and Larry Nance took part in ceremonies to promote Cleveland’s new identity for 2003-04. … Davis finished the season leading the Cavs in scoring (20.6), steals (1.6), assists (5.5), 3-point percentage (36.3) and minutes (39.6). … Peterson was the only Raptor to play in all 82 games…. The Raptors had 14 blocks.