Jay Triano paid the price Wednesday for guiding the Toronto Raptors to the third-worst record in the NBA this past season.
The team announced it will not pick up the option year on his contract as head coach, although he will remain with the organization as a consultant.
"We've decided that it was time to change the voice, change the leader at the helm," general manager Bryan Colangelo said on a conference call Wednesday evening.
Triano will serve as a special assistant to Colangelo, who said they recently sat down together to talk about the season and the future of the team.
"All of the factors that were discussed were weighed," Colangelo said. "It led to the conclusion that now was the right time to make a coaching change and we've decided to do that."
The search for a new coach will begin immediately and there is no firm deadline in place. Colangelo did not mention names but said he'd be interested in someone with a "defensive-minded perspective."
"I think tenure, experience, success, rate of success, those will all be factored in," Colangelo said.
Triano served as an assistant to three coaches before being named interim head coach in December 2008 following the dismissal of Sam Mitchell. The interim tag was later removed and Triano signed a three-year deal in May 2009.
He finished with an 87-142 record as head coach after a disappointing 22-60 campaign.
"This was a difficult decision to make," Colangelo said. "But after almost three full seasons of observation and evaluation I believe that bringing in a new voice as head coach will accelerate the progress we are looking to make in the coming years.
"I am very pleased that Jay has agreed to stay on and help see through the plan that we have designed and initiated together."
The announcement came two weeks after Colangelo agreed to a multi-year contract extension. He has spent five years at the helm of Canada's lone NBA team.
Colangelo said P.J. Carlesimo — the only assistant coach who remains under contract for next season — is not a candidate to replace Triano at this time.
Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., became the first Canadian head coach in the NBA when he joined Lenny Wilkens' staff for the 2002-'03 season.
"I am grateful to the organization for the opportunity to be a head coach in the NBA," Triano said. "I am proud of the work that I and the coaching staff have done with our young players and feel confident we have laid the foundation for a team that will continue to improve.
"I look forward in assisting Bryan to deliver a championship team to Toronto."
In 2009-'10, the Raptors went a disappointing 40-42 after an off-season overhaul by Colangelo in which he added nine new faces. But the team was ultimately undone by its perennial problems — poor defence and lackadaisical rebounding.
This past campaign was one the Raptors would like to forget. The outlook in training camp was bad following the off-season departure of five-time all-star Chris Bosh, and things actually played out worse.
A team lacking in talent also repeatedly delivered questionable efforts on the floor, with Triano becoming so frustrated that he often cursed during media interviews.
Triano, 52, became the unfortunate victim of the team's talent deficiency, although it's unclear how someone new will be able to get more from the current group. Centre Andrea Bargnani has failed to step into the void left by Bosh, and youngsters like DeMar DeRozan remain a work in progress.
"I have great respect for Jay Triano both as a person and as a basketball mind," Colangelo said. "Jay deserves tremendous credit for developing our young players this past season and our most recent win-loss record does not appropriately reflect his many positive contributions to this organization."
Triano spent 11 years as a player on Canada's national team and another six as its head coach, leading Canada to a seventh-place finish at the 2000 Olympics.
He set 11 school records at Simon Fraser University and then went on to be the Clan's head coach, eventually landing an NBA job as director of communications with the Vancouver Grizzlies.