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Sam Mitchell is a perfect hire for the Raptors and one that I hope will signal a level of stability in the franchise. Despite Mitchell's limited tenure as an assistant coach, he's more than ready to take on the responsibility of a head coach. He's played for great coaches like Flip Saunders and Larry Brown and has garnered great accolades from them as a locker room leader. Mitchell wasn't blessed with phenomenal talent as a player, but he succeeded on the court due to his work ethic and ability to learn. I fully expect him to do the same as the head coach of the Raptors.
Mitchell, hired Tuesday just two years after he retired as a player, will rely on his assistants to help him out. Mitchell, who played in the NBA for 13 years, was an assistant coach for the expansion Charlotte Bobcats for the past month. After playing for Minnesota and Indiana, Mitchell spent two years as an assistant with Milwaukee before leaving for Charlotte. "I understand the concerns ... that's why we're going to have a great support staff around me," said Mitchell, who is expected to add longtime NBA assistant Jim Todd to his staff. "We're going to have guys that have coached many years." The Raptors gave Mitchell a three-year contract worth nearly $5 million. Mitchell was a candidate for the Raptors' job last season before it went to Kevin O'Neill, who was fired after a 33-49 season. The Raptors fired general manager Glen Grunwald during the season and recently replaced him with Rob Babcock, Minnesota's former vice president of player personnel. Mitchell and Babcock know each other well. The 40-year-old Mitchell spent 10 seasons with Minnesota, and served as a mentor to league MVP Kevin Garnett, who jumped to the NBA from high school. Mitchell is the club's leader in games played at 757, and was second in scoring with 7,161 points.
|Sam Mitchell was seen as the go-to guy Tuesday, but he said he'll lean heavily on his staff as new Raptors coach.|