|TORONTO -- Dwane Casey has been carrying around a contract i
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|Tytuł:||TORONTO -- Dwane Casey has been carrying around a contract i|
TORONTO -- Dwane Casey has been carrying around a contract in his briefcase for the past few months, signed by all the Toronto Raptors and the teams staff. Jon Morris Jersey . The contract, just two or three lines long and something that "wouldnt hold up in court," Casey said laughing, was a pledge of commitment. Its headline: "Im all in." Perhaps no one was more committed than Casey to the Raptors success this season, and on Tuesday, the 57-year-old coach was rewarded with a new three-year contract. The announcement came two days after Torontos season ended, but a couple of months after GM Masai Ujiri first approached the coach to get a new deal done. "Coach Casey was really classy because he said to me and he said to the players, Lets leave this and concentrate on the season, this is our chance to prove ourselves," Ujiri said, recounting his initial contract talks with Casey back in March. "He said, If Ive preached that to the players, then I owe it to them to continue this and well talk about (contract negotiations) after the season. I really give him credit for that." Casey led a young Raptors team to a remarkable and unexpected season that included a franchise-record 48 wins, an Atlantic Division title, and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Toronto pushed the vastly experienced Brooklyn Nets to seven games in the opening round of the playoffs, losing Game 7 by just a point. Casey said he drew up his "Im all in" pledge right after the February all-star break. In their next game, the Raptors recorded a big 103-93 win at Washington. "(It was about) committing to the process. Leaving their egos at the door," said Casey, who said he might have the contract framed. "Each player dedicated themselves, gave themselves to the season, and also as far as Im concerned to the future. Because this year was just a start of what we want to grow and develop with Masai as our leader and also the guys that are coming back here." Kyle Lowry was the first player to jump up and sign the pledge, said Casey. Retaining Lowry, the point guard whose teammates say was their heart and soul this season, will be one of the Raptors top priorities in the coming weeks -- the 28-year-old becomes a free agent on July 1. Lowry spoke glowingly in exit interviews a day earlier about his love for his teammates and the city, and Ujiri sounded, on Tuesday, as if the feeling was mutual. "Its very important (to re-sign Lowry) in terms of continuity," Ujiri said. "Kyle has had a phenomenal year. I thought Kyle was a huge, huge key to our season. For me, negotiating is easy if we want Kyle to be here and Kyle wants to be here. "Hes grown tremendously, to be coached and to work with," Ujiri continued. "His teammates, everybody has said that. Were proud of him. And so well go through that process, but were optimistic stuff will happen." Lowry and his teammates praised Casey in season-ending media interviews, noting the consistency of his message. For his part, Casey said he never considered testing the market. Ujiri made a commitment to the coach when the season began, and Casey said it was only fair he reciprocate. Caseys job status was uncertain when the season began. He was hired by Bryan Colangelo, and Ujiri had just replaced Colangelo as GM. "Masai could have made any decision when he first took over the job last spring." Casey said. "He was true to his word, he gave all of us a platform to go out and prove and show, even the players, what you can do. And he was true to his word. Thats all you can ask for in this business is an opportunity. "It would be so disingenuous to even go out and put your foot in the market and think that was a possibility, so I didnt even give it a second thought. My heart is here, my mind is here." The Raptors thrived after the seven-player deal last December that sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. Casey, who is almost fatherly in the way he communicates with his team, worked four new players into the roster, and from that point forward Toronto had the best mark in the Eastern Conference at 41-22. Casey and Ujiri were proud of the teams performance in the playoffs. They squared off against a Nets team that was built for success right now, whereas the Raptors are very much a work in progress. Casey was named head coach in June 2011, shortly after he helped guide the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA title. When asked which season -- the championship in Dallas, or this Raptors campaign -- was more satisfying, he said this one. "Its far more gratifying watching kids grow, watching development ... watching guys go through Game 6, when our compete level in the first half was probably one of the lowest we had all year, and then turn it around and put ourselves in a position to win the game," Casey said. Casey said the biggest mistake the team can make now is be complacent, so improvement is the focus of the off-season. He pointed out how sophomore centre Jonas Valanciunas will work with NBA legend and former Raptor Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer. The coach said, for his part, hell do what he does every off-season and examine tape of every game, looking for what they did wrong, what they could have done better. Both Casey and Ujiri spoke again about the incredible fan support in Toronto, noting that support helps when theyre trying to sell the city to free agents. Casey called it easily the best in the NBA and compared it to the 1996 NBA finals. He was with the Seattle SuperSonics that year, bowing in the final series to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. "KeyArena was rocking, loud. The Finals in 96, I thought that was loud," Casey said. "That didnt compare to the Air Canada Centre on Sunday when Deron Williams was shooting his free throws (in the dying seconds). You could just hear it vibrating. The official had to lean over to me and whisper in my ear, which I felt kinda creepy ... but you couldnt hear yourself talk. Thats a home-court advantage, its second to none in the league." Ujiri mentioned his predecessor at the end of Tuesdays 45-minute news conference at Air Canada Centre. "I think Bryan Colangelo did an unbelievable job here," he said. "He hired Dwane Casey. The starting five were picked by Bryan Colangelo as young players. I think the guy did an unbelievable job. He was a boss here, my boss and a mentor. He needs to be given some credit." Casey was named NBA Eastern Conference coach of the month in December. The Raptors finished in the Top 10 in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage (.450) and points allowed (98.0), and also posted a franchise-best 22 road wins. J. D. Smith Jersey . -- The Oakland Raiders added a veteran presence to their young receiving group by signing free agent James Jones to a three-year contract Monday. Gene Washington Jersey . Pretty good hitting, too. Dan Haren pitched six innings and sparked the go-ahead rally with a single, leading Los Angeles to another win over the skidding Atlanta Braves, 4-2 on Tuesday night. http://www.custompatriotsjersey.com/custom-jimmy-johnson-jersey-large-981f.html . Spezza scored a power-play goal with 5 minutes left and Stephane Da Costa had the other two goals to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.Melbourne, Australia - Staring match point in the face, Maria Sharapova let loose a thunderous forehand and showed challenger Alexandra Panova why shes ranked No. 2 in the world. Sharapova trailed 1-4 in the third set, staved off a pair of match points and survived for one of her most memorable comeback victories in an improbably entertaining second-round match at the Australian Open on Wednesday. The match lasted 2 1/2 hours, the third set alone taking 68 minutes despite Panova jumping out to a commanding lead with a pair of breaks of Sharapovas serve. Sharapova earned one back but trailed 4-5 and faced two match points. On the first, the five-time Grand Slam winner unleashed a powerful winning forehand on a second serve that hugged the line. The second was a longer point also won by Sharapova with a forehand, and from there Panova wilted. The French Open champ Sharapova won the game, held at love and quickly earned two match points of her own. She only needed one, as Panova was long at the end of a lengthy rally to secure Sharapovas 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory. I think I was dwelling too much on my mistakes and what I was doing wrong, and not really being in the present, something that Im usually really good at, said Sharapova. At that point when youre behind, you feel like youre making a lot of errors and dont have a good rhythm out there, but I really just kept trying to take it one point at a time, think positively, and change my thought process a little bit out there. When other things arent working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out. The 25-year-old Panova entered the seasons first major as a qualifier and came in ranked 150th in the world. She lost all five of her previous Grand Slam matches before cruising past Sorana Cirstea on Monday. Sharapova, who committed 51 unforced errors and six double faults, won this major tournament in 2008 and was twice a runner-up. The former world No. 1 exited in the fourth round last year. Her next opponent will be 31st-seeded Kazakhstani Zarina Diyas, who overcame Anna Schmiedlova 3-6, 6-2, 8-6 at Melbourne Park. Meanwhile, third-seeded French Open runner-up Simona Halep whipped Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 6-2 and seeventh-seeded Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard blitzed Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-0, 6-3. Terry Kirby Jersey. Up next for Halep will be American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while Bouchard will face Frances Caroline Garcia. Tenth-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova mauled Italian veteran Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4, while 14th-seeded former French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy got past Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. In other action involving seeds, No. 21 Peng Shuai pasted Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1 and No. 22 Czech and last weeks Sydney runner-up Karolina Pliskova held off Frances Oceane Dodin 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Also on Day 3, Mattek-Sands edged out Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6); Garcia beat Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-4; Czech Lucie Hradecka beat Polona Hercog 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; German Julia Goerges outlasted Klara Koukalova 6-3, 4-6, 6-2; Belgian Yanina Wickmayer snuck past Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; German Carina Witthoeft drilled American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0; Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu topped Katerina Siniakova 7-5, 6-4; and Kazakhstans Yaroslava Shvedova downed Puerto Rican Monica Puig 6-2, 7-6 (8-6). On some more second-round action on Thursday, world No. 1 Serena Williams will face Vera Zvonareva in a rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon final, which was won by Williams, fourth-seeded reigning Wimbledon champ and last weeks Sydney titlist Petra Kvitova will take on German Mona Barthel, and eighth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki will battle fellow former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. The unseeded two-time Aussie champ from Belarus Azarenka titled back-to-back here in 2012 and 2013 before being slowed by a foot injury last year. She will meet Wozniacki for an eighth time on Thursday, with the Dane leading the Belarusian in their lifetime series, 4-3. Wozniacki got the better of Azarenka in the third round at the 2008 U.S. Open in their lone Grand Slam matchup. Also slated for action on Day 4 are sixth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, 11th-seeded 2014 Aussie runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and 18th-seeded former No. 1 and 2003 Aussie finalist Venus Williams, who will take on fellow American Lauren Davis. ' ' '
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