The Raptors may have a new head coach, but he’ll be without much of a staff heading into next season. As reported today, Rex Kalamian, Toronto’s defensive architect, has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers to presumably fill a similar role on Doc Rivers’ staff. The recently promoted Nick Nurse was, of course, also a Raptors assistant, and now he’ll have to fill more than his old position.
Here’s the Woj report in question:
Toronto Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian has agreed to join Doc Rivers' coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 14, 2018
Kalamian joined the Raptors in 2015, and helped shore up the team’s tactics on their way to becoming one of the better defensive teams in the league. Did those methods fall apart in the 2018 playoffs? Uh, yes, but also, Kalamian is still an in-demand assistant coach — he’s been a solid presence in Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Oklahoma City, prior to his stint in Toronto.
The broader narrative here for Toronto is an interesting one. The Raptors had three assistant coaches, plus Jerry Stackhouse (a one-time assistant and then G League head coach), in their stable. In the process of firing Dwane Casey and promoting Nurse, they’ve lost both Stack and Kalamian, and now have only Jama Mahlalela as a holdover from the previous regime.
On top of all that: some recent reports, including this one from The Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk, have speculated that there was some tension between the offensive-minded (and experimental) Nurse and the defensive-minded Casey and Kalamian.
We’ll probably never know the extent of whatever friction there might have been, but given that report—and given that Kalamian also wanted the Raptors’ head coaching job—it’s probably not a surprise to see him move on.
As we’ve said time and time again, this ultimately means two things: the Raptors have a staff of good coaches that other teams want to hire, and... they have a lot more work to do.