This offseason marks the end of many eras for the Toronto Raptors, one in particular being the Head Coaching tenure of Nick Nurse. After five seasons, a championship, a tenure in Tampa Bay, a couple of Canadian TV spots, and countless jam sessions, Nick Nurse was let go by the Toronto Raptors after the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.
The season overall was not great for the Raptors. They barely made the play-in, lost in the first game at home to the Chicago Bulls, and did not live up to expectations. The vibes were sour, the culture seemed disconnected, and eventually the first course of action seemed to be parting ways with Nurse to start fresh.
Nurse still had one year left on his contract, and if he didn’t take any other coaching position, would have still received an eight million dollar pay out from the Raptors for next season. Whether or not you would have taken the money and ran to a tropical location for the next year (that’s what I would have done) — Nurse was immediately thrown into the ring for several head coaching vacancies around the NBA.
Rightfully so — Nurse is a Coach of the Year winner, a champion, and boasts a 227-163 winning record as head coach. His defensive schemes are revered in the NBA, and his uniqueness (while not what the Raptors may need right now) makes him a great coach.
First, he was heavily rumoured to be up for the Houston Rockets job. A young team in development, Nick’s experience would have lended well to a team with a ton on young guys (who are ready to run the floor for 35+ mins per night). Eventually, Ime Udoka got that gig.
Then, Nurse was tossed into the running for the Phoenix Suns gig. Phoenix has a talented roster with multiple All-Star calibre players and just acquired Kevin Durant at this year’s trade deadline. Nick’s experience coaching players like Kawhi Leonard during the Raptors 2019 championship run would have helped him in that area.
Some time after that, it was revealed that Nick Nurse was a finalist for the Milwaukee Bucks job. To be able to coach a player like Giannis Antetokuonmpo is surely exciting for any coach, and with a talented supporting cast, the Bucks looking for a guy with Nurse’s experience to rally the team after a disappointing season seemed to make sense. Yet, he pulled out of the race and the job was given to ANOTHER Raptors staff member — now former Associate Head Coach Adrian Griffin.
When Nurse pulled out the Milwaukee race, many speculated it was because he had reached an agreement with another team. He was never rumoured to be up for the Detroit Pistons job (we can all assume why ourselves), so that left the Suns and Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia situation was... low key hilarious when you think about it. Ironic. Storybook. If the Writers’ Guild wasn’t on strike we’d call it a case of NBA screenwriters (pay the writers).
Think back to Nurse’s first year as head coach, 2018-2019. The Raptors, lead by Nurse as well as Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and that beloved squad head into the playoffs. Now, the odds for them are good, but they face Joel Embiid and the 76ers in the second round. The series gets to game seven, and game seven is close. It’s at home in Toronto, the crowd is fiery, the city is electric. With seconds on the clock, Nick Nurse draws up a play for Kawhi Leonard... we all know what happens next. On our end in Toronto, the second greatest moment in our city’s sports history, second only to winning the actual championship. On the Philadelphia end, maybe the most heartbreaking moment in their city’s sports history. Joel Embiid is pictured crying in the Scotiabank Arena tunnel...
...fast forward five years. The guy who drew up that play is now your coach.
ESPN Sources: Nick Nurse has reached an agreement to become the next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Nurse — who won an NBA championship and a coach of year award with Toronto — now gets to coach the 2023 MVP Joel Embiid. pic.twitter.com/SrsXhzx7Y3— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 29, 2023
On Monday afternoon, it was announced that Nick Nurse and the Philadelphia 76ers would be reaching an agreement to make Nurse their head coach. He apparently met with Embiid and it went well. Nurse will now be at the helm of one of the Raptors greatest rivals. The Raptors save eight million dollars (which they can sauce my way if they’d like), and still don’t have a head coach themselves.
Expect more news on OUR coaching situation in the next week or so — but for now, congratulations to both Nick Nurse and Adrian Griffin on their new gigs.
...and just for good measure, let’s watch this again!