The Toronto Raptors are set to add Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo to Nick Nurse’s staff as an assistant, according to reports.
Scariolo had been working with Nurse and the team at the Las Vegas Summer League, so these reports are no surprise. All that remains to formalize the deal is Scariolo securing a release from the Spanish national team, where his contract runs through 2020.
If you’re looking for connections between Scariolo and the Raptors there are a couple; Scariolo has coached former Raptors Jose Calderon and Jorge Garbajosa in the past (and Garbajosa, now president of the Spanish basketball federation, will be the one to release Scariolo from his current role), and has coached Serge Ibaka with the Spanish national team as well.
That last part is what’s most intriguing to me. Ibaka was up-and-down all of last season, and it’s unclear how the Raptors big man rotation will shake out now that Kawhi Leonard is in the fold. It most likely means more of Ibaka at the 5, should Nurse roll out a lineup with OG Anunoby and Leonard at the forward spots. It could even mean Ibaka comes off the bench, if Nurse decides to start Jonas Valanciunas with that same lineup. Either way, I hope that a new-yet-familiar voice can coax a more consistent level of play from Ibaka night-to-night over the course of the season.
Scariolo coached the Spanish national team from 2009-2012, winning Silver at the 2012 Olympics and winning the EuroBasket tournament in 2009 and 2011. He took over the top spot again in 2015, and led the team to a Bronze in the 2016 Olympics as well as another EuroBasket championship in 2015—not to mention Bronze at the 2017 Eurobasket tourney.
And that’s just his Spanish national team resume. Scariolo has been a head coach in Europe for close to 30 years, leading teams in both the Spanish and Italian leagues—and winning league championships and coach of the year awards in both.
With Adrian Griffin and Nate Bjorkgren having already joined Nurse’s staff, Scariolo’s hiring should be the final piece of the Raptors coaching puzzle.