With an intro from broadcaster Paul Jones, Raptors team president Masai Ujiri took the stage this afternoon to (finally) present Toronto’s new head coach: Nick Nurse.
Here’s the press conference in full:
Obviously, the words from Ujiri are all good — he’s excited and congratulatory throughout. This is his first ever head coaching hiring as an NBA executive after all. As for Nurse, waiting 27 years for his NBA head coaching shot, he says “it feels pretty good” to finally get the call after a recent month-long wait. If you’ve read up on Nurse’s basketball history, it’s been quite a trip.
If you personally are looking to get jazzed up, listen to how many times Nurse says some combination of words involving “innovative” and “creative.” It’s a small thing, but it is kind of exciting to consider what else can be done with this Raptors squad. We know the team is going to be mostly similar to last year’s, so if Nurse believes it is possible to do something different — maybe it can be done?
My opinion on this is, well, this: Dwane Casey was an extremely, extremely necessary part of getting the Raptors to where they are now. They needed a solid baseline, a steady floor, a rock on which to build the church of this franchise. Everyone involved with Toronto basketball (and around the league at large), needed to believe that the Raptors were for real. With help from the players and management, Casey accomplished this. (Yes, even in the face of some sad playoff defeats.) For whatever else you want to say, we now talk and think differently about the Raptors because of how the last five years played out.
But we’ve reached a new plateau in Toronto, and now there’s something new — and more challenging — to do: Nurse and the Raptors will have to figure out ways to raise the team’s overall ceiling. At this stage, it’s unclear how that will happen. We don’t even know yet what Nurse can actually do differently with this team as constructed. But much like last year’s “culture” changes, maybe we can be surprised again. I’m ready to give the Raps, Ujiri, and Nurse the benefit of the doubt.
And if it doesn’t work out? Well, then come the bigger questions, and the even harder work.
In any case, here are the latest things we’ve had to say on the Nurse hiring: