The Toronto Raptors will say goodbye to one of their top assistant coaches, sources say, as Sergio Scariolo is expected to become the next head coach of Virtus Bologna, one of the oldest club teams in Europe. The Italian native is heading home.
Emiliano Carchia of Sportando was the first to report this morning:
Sergio Scariolo is leaving the Toronto Raptors to become the new head coach of Virtus Bologna where he will sign a multi-year deal. https://t.co/86MGv2GEr6— Emiliano Carchia (@Carchia) June 15, 2021
In May, it was reported that Scariolo would be signing on long-term with the Raptors, as he was one of Nick Nurse’s top front row colleagues through a challenging 2020-21 season. When Nurse and several members of the coaching staff missed games due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Scariolo took over the head coaching chair briefly. The 60-year-old was there as Toronto won a game against the Houston Rockets.
Of course, his experience goes longer than one head coaching win in the NBA. He has experience as the lead of the Spanish national team, taking them for two deep international runs (silver medal and a bronze). He’s also coached a champion in the Spanish league twice.
Scariolo’s departure leaves Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie as Nurse’s top assistants heading into what will be an interesting off-season. There’s now an open chair for Nate Bjorkgren to return after his ignominious departure from the Pacers, though there’s no word on whether the former Raptors assistant and 2019 champion has interest in his former team. Other candidates are in-house too, as Brittni Donaldson and Patrick Mutombo are also options for moving up a few chairs, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
An interesting summer for Raptors coaching staff. Club never replaced Chris Finch who left mid-season for Minnesota and now lose Scariolo. Big chances for Patrick Mutombo, Jama Mahlalela, Jon Goodwillie & Brittni Donaldson among existing staff. Could Nate Bjorkgren return? https://t.co/pUtRjHX1Y9— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) June 15, 2021
Assistant coaches are usually a bit of a musical chairs act, especially this time of year, but what’s nice to see is that Scariolo is getting a chance to return to his native country to coach one of their most esteemed clubs — where he’ll continue a long history of leading European basketball teams.
Update (2 p.m.): Or, this could be completely off-base! TSN’s Josh Lewenberg is disputing the international reporting that Scariolo is as good as gone. Conversations continue at this time.
Reports of Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo leaving the team for Virtus Bologna are premature, I'm told. He's had preliminary discussions with the Italian club but no decision has been made.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) June 15, 2021