The Raptors took a major risk by firing highly successful Dwane Casey – the impending Coach of the Year! – in 2018. Still in win-now mode, Toronto pursued Mike Budenholzer. But Budenholzer chose the Bucks, and the Raptors settled for promoting Nick Nurse, an assistant with plenty of head-coaching experience around the globe but none in the NBA.
What a boon that turned out to be.
The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have signed head coach Nick Nurse to a multi-year contract extension.
“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,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “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.”
Sometimes, coaches look better early in their tenures. Small samples can get overestimated. New challenges emerge and paint a fuller picture. This caveat is fully noted.
But Nurse makes a case as the NBA’s very best coach.
He makes helpful adjustments in the playoffs. His defenses are especially creative, and getting his players to execute the varying schemes is no easy task. Players have developed under his watch. His offense is modern. When injuries hit, he reconfigures his rotation and keeps everything humming.
Nurse probably won’t keep winning 72% of his games, the best mark in NBA history. But as the Raptors transition to their next era, it’s nice to have Nurse on board.
This job security empowers him to be tough on his players. It allows him to continue exploring his outside interests. It positions him to keep coaching Team Canada. Maybe he’ll even garner more respect from his peers during the extension.
Most importantly, Nurse and the Raptors continue their fruitful partnership.