Nick Nurse Rumors
The Magic’s search could include such candidates as Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse, San Antonio Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ime Udoka, Portland Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool, Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov, and Toronto 905 G League coach Jerry Stackhouse, league sources said.
In conversations with a bevy of league officials, as many as nine coaches – or almost a third of the league — could possibly be fired. Among the teams that are leaning heavily toward jettisoning their head coaches, according to league sources, are Memphis, Charlotte and Orlando. Additionally, Milwaukee, barring a deep run in the playoffs, and Phoenix are expected to hire new head coaches this summer. Some NBA officials contend Orlando is leaning toward replacing current head coach Frank Vogel with Jerry Stackhouse, who has strong ties with Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and Magic general manager John Hammond. Toronto assistant coach Nick Nurse has also been mentioned as a potential Magic coach.
Nick Nurse, Toronto: 16 Votes Nurse, 50, is well-traveled: He was a player-coach in the British Basketball League in his early 20s, moved to the D-League in 2007 — where he became the first head coach in league history to lead two different teams to championships — before joining Dwane Casey’s staff in Toronto in 2013. A respected offensive mind, Nurse is credited with leading the overhaul of Toronto’s offense this season, which has seen the Raptors evolve from an isolation-heavy, 3-point averse offense into a free-flowing one that fires up the third-most threes per game (32.9) in the NBA.
The names of three Toronto-based coaches, in a nod to Weltman’s ties to the Raptors and Toronto’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference, are already being mentioned in connection with this job: Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian from Dwane Casey’s staff with the Raptors and the former All-Star guard Jerry Stackhouse, who is in his second season as head coach of Toronto’s N.B.A. G-League franchise.
Rex KALAMIAN: [Dwane Casey] gives me so much freedom defensively to be able to make changes and input different ideas and I’m very thankful for it…. It’s really cool because it puts a lot of responsibility in my hands. This summer we looked at our numbers defensively and he challenged me to come up with a few things that we needed to change. What could we do different to get our pick-and-roll coverage better? What could we do to get our three-point percentage down? I looked at a lot of film and came up with a few ideas that he was on board with. Nick NURSE: It’s a big deal. What’s happening here, what’s going into game plans, what’s happening on the court, what’s happening late in games, and it’s a big deal and for him to put as much trust as he does in us is really helpful. It’s really fun, but it’s really helpful.
Change, in other words, would need to come from within. Enter Nick Nurse, a 50-year-old assistant coach who was charged with shaking up the offense. After a recent practice, Nurse was explaining the general importance of passing the basketball when he motioned to Jonas Valanciunas, the team’s starting center. Valanciunas, Nurse said, was no longer tethered to the low post. “This guy loves it,” Nurse said. “He’s touching the ball a lot more.” He added: “I think for a lot of the roster, it’s a lot of fun. It might not be as much fun for the guys who aren’t quite used to it yet.”