While the scoop has been out there for a couple weeks, this morning the Raptors officially announced they’ve added Chris Finch to Nick Nurse’s coaching staff. The hiring brings these two old friends and rivals together to mix-and-match their offensive and defensive approaches to the team. It’ll be something to see — but that’s not the only coaching news for Toronto.
Long-time Raptors coach Jama Mahlalela will be re-joining Nurse’s staff on the main club. If you’ve been keeping track, the GTA-raised Jama has worn a few hats for the Raptors since 2006, starting with the Raptors Basketball Academy as the leader of various clinics, before working as the director of basketball operations for NBA Asia in 2009, and returning as an assistant coach under Dwane Casey for five seasons in 2013. He’s spent the last two years running the Raptors 905 in the G League, helping to hone the franchise’s well-regarded player development program as its director. It also should be said that Mahlalela is a friendly and enthusiastic guy, attributes that look to have served him well over the years.
Meanwhile, with Mahlalela’s promotion, the 905 gets a new head coach in Patrick Mutombo. He’s been with Toronto since 2016, joining the team as an assistant coach after stops in Denver and San Antonio, and time spent in the then-D-League. As far as coaching continuums go, it makes sense for the Raptors to give Mutombo some head coaching experience while bringing Jama back into the fold after his time in the lead chair (even if it is “merely” the G League).
At the same time, Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett will be joining Mutombo’s staff in the G League as assistant coaches. For Bennett, this has to be a pretty cool promotion, as a person who’s been working in the background of the team’s player development side of things for a few years now. (To add some context: I was first introduced to John back when he was doing, I believe, stats collection/analysis for the team.) He has served as the team’s Player Development Coordinator since 2018.
Donaldson, meanwhile, will likely see her assistant coach role expand considerably after being hired as the youngest assistant (and only tenth woman) in the NBA. Like Bennett, she was at one time doing data analysis for the Raptors before making the jump to Nurse’s staff as an assistant. For more of a look into Donaldson’s journey, she’s gotten the full ESPN profile treatment before.
As continues to be the case with the Raptors, they’re not just about developing player talent — the organization also has a keen eye for grooming their coaching staff as well. In any case, good luck to all in their new positions with the Raptors.