Just announced this Tuesday morning, the Raptors and Nick Nurse have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract extension to keep him in Toronto as the team’s head coach. This is about as big a no-brainer move a team can possibly make, and it’s nice to see them waste almost zero time to get a deal done.
Here’s the official press release with all sorts of delightful details and quotes. (Though, as per team policy, specifics as to the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.)
The official statement from Raptors team president Masai Ujiri:
“Our confidence in Nick just continues to grow, and part of that comes from what we’ve experienced together. The past two seasons have been unlike any other in our team’s history — first, winning our championship, and then navigating a global pandemic and committing long-term to the fight against racism and for social justice. Nick has proved that he can coach on the court and lead in life, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing great things in the future.”
And here’s the take from the man himself:
“My family and I will always be appreciative of Larry Tanenbaum and MLSE ownership for this opportunity. I’m grateful to Masai, Bobby, and the players for their trust and their hard work. Toronto has been my home for the past seven years, and I look forward to it being home for many more. I’ve watched this franchise grow and reach the pinnacle, and I look forward to the challenge of helping us win another championship.”
In his two years as their head coach, Nurse has helped the Raptors claim the 2019 NBA championship and then followed that up by winning the league’s Coach of the Year award. In the process, he’s led Toronto to a 111-43 record in those two seasons, good for a franchise-leading winning percentage of .721 overall. This includes his record-setting .736 percentage achieved in support of the Raptors’ inspiring title defense, which fell short this past Friday — but not without a hard fight. Nurse is worth a contract extension, is my point.
The Raptors of next season will likely be a team in transition, with potentially some of its championship core moving on from Toronto. What’s more, there will come a time in the not so distant future when Kyle Lowry will no longer be the franchise’s cornerstone, and the Raptors will have to figure out what they have with Pascal Siakam — to say nothing of any other future star they hope to attract or acquire in their bid for another championship. There are changes and likely major transition coming on the court over the next few years in Toronto. I mention this because Nurse has already proven himself to be a coach who can adapt to whatever the situation calls for — including coaching on the NBA’s biggest stage. (It’s also cool that Nurse is the head coach of Team Canada’s men’s basketball team; there’s a nice bit of national synnergy there.)
In Nurse’s first season as a head coach, after five years as an assitant to Dwane Casey, he responded to the bright lights of the Kawhi Leonard deal and the pressure that put on the team by guiding them to a title. This past season, despite sizable roster changes, injuries, a global pandemic, and his players’ emotional calls for social justice during a restarted season in the bizarre Disney World Bubble, Nurse was able to keep the team together and the much-needed messages moving forward. It could not have been easy.
For the Raptors, this represents the first major domino to fall in their off-season plans. Next up is to hopefully get Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster signed to extensions. And then to look at their cadre of free agents — including stalwarts Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka.
More on that as the news presents itself.