Raptors talking turnover, but it’s a good thing
‘Best talent in a long time,’ says assistant coach Triano
WATERLOO, Ont. — Jay Triano has worked with three Toronto Raptors head coaches, three general managers and a revolving door of players.
Through all the changes the NBA team has seen during his four seasons in Toronto, the Canadian coach has remained a constant.
The Raptors head into a new season with a new roster after one of the most dramatic off-season makeovers Triano has seen yet. He believes it may turn out to be the most successful.
“We’ve got all the right reasons to be optimistic for this year,” Triano said at training camp at Waterloo’s RIM Park on Friday. “This is the best talent and best basketball long time.”
GM Bryan Colangelo blew up the roster in off-season — only five players remain from team that went 27-55 last season.
The mood is more positive, Triano said, with Jose Calderon and Raptors rookie Jorge Garbajosa fresh off their gold-medal performance for Spain at the world championship and the signing of Chris Bosh to a contract extension in the offseason.
“Bryan has really changed the face of the organization from the top and from the product that’s on the floor,” said Triano. “There are so many new faces. We’ve kept the good guys — Mo (Peterson) and Chris and the rest. It’s fun coming to practice because they’re all good people and that makes it such a good environment.”
The Raptors returned to Waterloo to hold camp this year after two seasons at St. Catharines, Ont.
that we’ve had in a the the Triano, Peterson and Bosh — who was in his rookie season — are the only Raptors remaining from the 2003 Waterloo camp.
“That kind of shocked me when I heard that,” said Triano. “In this business there is so much change that you don’t realize it sometimes until you hear a fact like that . . . it kind of hits you a bit.”
But the 48-year-old Triano, who worked for coaches Lenny Wilkens and Kevin O’Neill before Mitchell, said he’s made the most of the changes in staff, gleaning knowledge from everyone he’s worked with.
“It’s been interesting,” said Triano, the first Canadian-born coach in the NBA. “Different coaches have different styles of teaching, they have different personalities, they have different styles of what they want to do offensively and defensively, and for a person who loves basketball like I do, it’s been great to learn from so many different people.”
The native of Niagara Falls, Ont., heads into the NBA season after a few unexpected weeks off. He had accepted a job as the head coach of the Republic of Georgia’s national team, but Georgian officials pulled the plug at the last minute.
Triano was the head coach of the Canadian men’s senior team, leading the squad to an impressive seventh-place finish at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. After the team didn’t qualify for the 2004 Games, Triano’s contract wasn’t renewed.
While the Georgia job was not to be, Triano said he’d love to coach a team at the international level again.
“Any time you coach a national team, there’s just such a sense of pride. These guys (Calderon and Garbajosa) played for Spain and the two Slovenians (Rasho Nesterovic and Uros Slokar) played at the world championship . . . There’s no money involved, you just do it for the love of the game and the love of your country.”