Not all that long ago, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was the king of the world in Toronto.
Nurse took over for previous head coach Dwayne Casey in 2018 and immediately led the Raptors to their first NBA Championship.
The following year, without Kawhi Leonard, Nurse guided the Raptors to a 53-19 record and won the NBA Coach of the Year award.
Toronto was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, but it appears things were still looking up for the Raptors.
Appearances, however, can often deceive. The Raps went 27-45 the following year while dealing with a slew of injuries. They improved to 48-34 in 2021-22 and rookie Scottie Barnes looked like an emerging star.
But both Barnes and Toronto took a step back this past season and the Raptors went just 41-41, missing the playoffs altogether.
That was enough for Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to make the call.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Toronto has hired Nurse following the disappointing season.
Nick Nurse is out as Raptors coach, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/HEKwTAdfUH
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
“Masai Ujiri and Nurse met several times since the end of the season to discuss how they might move forward together, but a breakup felt inevitable. Nurse had one year and $8M-plus left on his deal, sources said,” Wojnarowski reported about the move.
It’s hard to imagine Nurse will be out of the league all that long. He has a .582 win percentage in five seasons as an NBA head coach despite the dismal 2020-21 season. And he also has an NBA Championship ring. There aren’t many coaches like that on the market.
One possible destination that has already already emerged is the Houston Rockets. The Rockets fired coach Stephen Silas after yet another disappointing season. But Nurse coached the team’s G League affiliate from 2011-2013, winning two championships along the way.
Houston Rockets will target Nick Nurse as a strong candidate for their vacant head coach opening, sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 21, 2023
Either way, Nurse will be a highly coveted man.