After a lackluster season, the Toronto Raptors have opted to make a major change.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Friday morning, head coach Nick Nurse has been fired after 10 years with the organization (five as an assistant coach).
Nick Nurse is out as Raptors coach, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/HEKwTAdfUH— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
Just four years ago, Nurse led the Raptors to their first and only NBA Championship title, and earned the Coach of the Year honor a season later.
Since then, however, the tide has turned for the organization. The decision comes just weeks after Toronto failed to make the playoffs after a 41-41 campaign. They also missed the playoffs in 2021. Last season, the Raptors clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but fell in the first round in six games to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sixers fans will most likely remember another series, however, whenever they hear Nurse’s name. Back in 2019, the Sixers faced off with the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, with Philadelphia jumping out to a 2-1 series lead. The Sixers then forced a Game 7 after falling down 3-2. As if that wasn’t painful enough, it came down to the final seconds. Kawhi Leonard hit an off-balance jumper to clinch the game and series for the Raptors on their way to their NBA title.
Shudders. We remember it all too well.
Nurse is reportedly expected to be a top candidate for the head coach role for the Houston Rockets, according to Wojnarowski:
Nurse will immediately become a prominent candidate in the Houston Rockets’ coaching search, sources tell ESPN. He won the 2019 NBA title as Raptors coach, and was voted the 2020 NBA Coach of the Year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
As far as the void left in Toronto is concerned, reports from Wojnarowski suggest that former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is strongly being considered for the slot:
ESPN story on Nick Nurse’s dismissal in Toronto clearing the way for a serious Ime Udoka candidacy: https://t.co/8Hhy1i494J— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
This move doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, even to Nurse himself. Before tipping off against the Sixers for the final time this season on March 31, Nurse told reporters there would be a reflection period at the conclusion of the season to decide his future with the organization.
Nurse ends his tenure in Toronto with 227 wins and 163 losses.