I’ve felt like the Lone Ranger on this one. I’m convinced Dwane Casey would be a fine hire for the Hawks, but few seem to agree. You say, “What has he ever done?” You say, “Why get a guy who lasted only a season and a half as head coach in Minnesota?”
And I understand, to a degree. Casey isn’t on TV talking, the way Avery Johnson and Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are. (No, Casey actually has a job coaching.) He’s not a big name. He’s just a really smart basketball man who has a great way with people, and if that’s not the essence of head-coaching material I don’t know what is.
But you folks don’t know him, and you haven’t heard him talk about the game and seen him relate to people. I have. (I’ve known him for 25 years.) And I fault myself for not crafting my message better. So maybe I should let someone else deliver it.
On cue, here’s Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports and the blog Ball Don’t Lie. And here’s what Dwyer has to say about Casey:
Dwane Casey is not just another retread. [He] can actually coach. [If] he Atlanta Hawks make him their next sideline stalker, general manager Rick Sund may have found an answer for the blasé attitude that permeated the Hawk locker room more times than not during Mike Woodson’s tenure.
But wait. Dwyer is only warming up. That half-season when Casey was dumped by the Timberwolves? When president Kevin McHale and GM Kevin Taylor dumped him with a 20-20 record? That was actually coaching at its best. Writes Dwyer:
He put the Wolves in the playoff hunt midway through the season with a lineup built around Kevin Garnett that should have been in the Greg Oden [meaning the NBA lottery] hunt. The Kentucky product and one-time-understudy-to-many had the Wolves overachieving, and working hard on both ends. And for Taylor, it wasn’t enough. It should have been.
For Hawks fans, and especially Hawks players? This guy is enough.
This guy is more than enough. He’s game matched with smarts and doubled up with focus. Plays, and the inspiration to want to run those plays. You will want to execute. And in a locker room that was poisoned by a coaching staff that gave up once spring hit (why wouldn’t it? Woodson heard the rumors, and the Hawks lamed his duck months ago), Casey is exactly what the Hawks need.
There’s much more, and I encourage you to read Dwyer’s article in its terrific totality. Because I’ve been trying to make the same arguments for a while now, and I’m not seeing much fruit from these labors. But I’m encouraged to know I’m not a lone voice crying in the wilderness. At the very least, there are two of us.
And if the Hawks do hire Dwane Casey, there’ll be more. Anyone who hears him speak at the introductory press conference will say, “Know what? This guy’s got it.” Trust me on this.
And if you don’t trust me, trust Kelly Dwyer.