Butch Carter's tumultuous tenure at coach of the Toronto Raptors is over.
The Raptors fired Carter Tuesday, after a season in which he led the team to its first NBA playoff berth but also found himself in almost constant controversy and clashes with his own players.
"It is clear that this change, while disappointing to me on a personal and professional level, is necessary if we are to continue to build towards an NBA championship," general manager Glen Grunwald told a news conference.
There was no immediate word on Carter's successor.
Grunwald said Carter seemed "relieved" after hearing the news at a meeting that he termed positive and praised Carter's role in turning the club around.
"His accomplishments in Toronto should not be discounted," Grunwald said. "However, in the end that success was clouded by off-court distractions that were disconcerting to ours fans and our organization."
Carter has been in the spotlight in recent months for actions away from the court.
In a book written with his brother Cris, he attacked Indiana coach Bob Knight's behavior while Butch Carter played there. He sued former Raptor and current Knick Marcus Camby for calling him a liar, then dropped the lawsuit after his legal challenge received widespread criticism.
Carter made headlines again after a report that he had asked for Grunwald's title in his annual job review before Grunwald and team president Richard Peddie. The coach said he did not want Grunwald's powers, only his title for added influence in dealings with free agents.
Perhaps the last straw came last week when Tracy McGrady, on the verge of free agency, cited the veterans' dissatisfaction with Carter and ensuing turmoil as reasons why he wouldn't be back in Toronto.
Under Carter, the Raptors finished third in the Central Division with a 45-37 record. The team was eliminated 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs by New York.
Carter was also seen as instrumental in grooming McGrady and Vince Carter, the two young stars of the team.
Butch Carter was chosen as coach on June 12, 1998, after being named interim coach on Feb. 13 following Darrell Walker's resignation. He joined the team as an assistant coach prior to the team's third season.
Carter's regular-season record with the Raptors was 73-243.
He followed Brendan Malone and Walker as head coaches with the Raptors, who joined the league in 1995-96.
Prior to joining the Raptors, he was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks from 1991-96 and a Bucks scout in 1996-1997. Before that he was an assistant coach at Dayton and Long Beach State.
As a player, he was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, and played 361 games over six season with the Lakers, Indiana, New York and Philadelphia, averaging 8.7 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds.
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