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MFFL
04-20-2003, 05:07 PM
Thursday, April 17
Wilkens out as coach by 'mutual agreement'
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Lenny Wilkens thinks he can build another winner, even after experiencing the worst season of his 30-year NBA career.

The Hall of Fame coach left the Toronto Raptors "by mutual agreement'' Thursday following a 24-58 season in which Wilkens set the league record for career losses.

"I feel like I've got a lot of coaching left in me. I'm going to look at some options,'' the 65-year-old Wilkens said. "I still have a love of the game. I'll be involved one way or another.''

Wilkens had one season left on his contract. The team said it will pay him what he's due after reaching what it called "a mutual agreement that concludes Wilkens' tenure with the team.''

The Raptors won a franchise-best 47 games in Wilkens' first season and 42 last season, making the playoffs both times. But this time the team was devastated by injuries -- Toronto didn't suit up all 12 players in any game this season.

"If you can't practice because you've only got five or six that are healthy, you can't implement what you want to do,'' Wilkens said. "Injuries had a lot to do with it. I would have liked to have us healthy. That would have been great, but it wasn't to be.''

All-Star Vince Carter missed nearly half the season with knee and ankle problems. He acknowledged Wilkens couldn't do much about the injuries but said the team didn't respond to Wilkens' laid-back style.

"We didn't really know our roles and what we were supposed to do,'' Carter said. "We should look for a coach that understands the game today. To heck with the past.''

Wilkens holds the record for coaching victories (1,292) and losses (1,114). Wilkens passed Bill Fitch for the dubious mark with an April 4 defeat to San Antonio.

Toronto lost its final eight games, including Wednesday night's finale in Cleveland. The Raptors' record was their worst since they went 16-66 in 1997-98.

"This season was a disappointment of the highest order for all of us associated with the Toronto Raptors,'' general manager Glen Grunwald said. "In discussions with Lenny about the future direction of the team, it became apparent to both of us that parting company would best serve his interests, as well as those of the organization.''

Grunwald had made his feelings clear Tuesday night, after the Raptors lost to Miami in their final home game. The GM took a microphone and addressed the remaining fans, telling them: "We will not stand for this any longer.''

The Raptors struggled even when Carter returned, and Grunwald wasn't happy with the physical condition of his players or their effort on defense.

"We are the 29th team in opponents' field-goal percentage. You can't be the worst team in the NBA on defense,'' he said.

Grunwald met with Carter and co-captain Antonio Davis this week.

"We needed to change who we were,'' Carter said. "We were going down. Look at our record.''

Wilkens and John Wooden are the only people to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.

Wilkens, a nine-time All-Star, was honored in 1996 as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players. He also made the list of the league's 10 greatest coaches.

Wilkens coached Seattle to the 1979 NBA title, and also coached in Portland, Cleveland and Atlanta. In 1995, he earned his coaching 939th victory to overtake Red Auerbach for the record. A year later, he coached the U.S. team to the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics.


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FRED CARTER
Thurs, April 17
It's a shame that Lenny had to leave the Raptors the way he did. This season there were an insurmountable amount of injuries -- the Raptors never had 12 players on their roster. When you have rumblings from the fans, front office and the players it's time for a change. In this day and age, the front office has to make these changes for the season ticket holders to give them some hope.

I'm not sure if Wilkens wants to coach again, if he does I think he'll eventually coach somewhere. Lenny has had a great coaching career, a great playing career and is a great man. Much respect to Lenny Wilkens.

Drbio
04-21-2003, 12:03 AM
Good move by the Craptors.

MavKikiNYC
04-21-2003, 02:38 PM
Is Lenny done as a head coach?

Should he be pulled in by some team with a relatively young coach, as a sort of mentor? Or as an experienced hand to an established pro? Could he come home to NYC and work alongside Chaney? Or could he work over in Joisey as an old head with Byron Scott? As a voice of coaching experience to Isiah Thomas? Out with the Clips helping former player Dennis Johnson bring the Clips back up?

Where, oh where? Seems a shame not to have the winningest coach involved somewhere somehow.

Kevink00012
04-21-2003, 02:55 PM
He'll pop up somewhere, just hope it's not here.

Nash13
04-21-2003, 05:11 PM
I saw this coming last year. It's no good having the most wins in history along with the most losses.

mavsfanforever
04-22-2003, 10:16 PM
Now they need to get rid of Vince Carter too.

aexchange
04-24-2003, 10:45 AM
get rid of him to the mavs. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

how about AJ and TAW for VC?

hahahahah i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif