Raptors hire Sam Mitchell as new coach

The Toronto Raptors named Sam Mitchell as their new bench boss on Tuesday.

Mitchell was formally introduced as the NBA team's sixth head coach at a media conference at Toronto's Air Canada Centre Tuesday morning.

"Sam Mitchell embodies all the characteristics that are consistent with the basketball philosophy we're building with the Toronto Raptors – an outstanding work ethic, strong character, mental toughness, and a commitment to team values," Toronto GM Rob Babcock said.

"He has excellent communications skills. He's also a good person who is active in the community and will represent our organization well."

Mitchell's contract runs through the 2006-07 season, the NBA team said.

"Our fans will see a team that is going to be well prepared, and that will compete hard on the court game in and game out," promised Mitchell.

"We are already establishing a plan and a philosophy for taking this organization forward. I'm excited about what lies ahead for the Raptors and our fans."

The 40-year-old Mitchell spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, he recently had been hired to be the lead assistant under head coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff with the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.

The Bobcats had given the Raptors permission to talk to Mitchell.

The 40-year-old Mitchell enjoyed a 13-year playing career in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers. He played in 994 regular-season contests and averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The Raptors were in need of a head coach after Kevin O'Neill was dismissed on April 16.

Toronto finished with a 33-49 record in 2003-04 and failed to qualify for the playoffs in O'Neill's first campaign with the club. He took over for Lenny Wilkens in June 2003.

with files from Sports Network