Rex Kalamian Rumors
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.
The two had bonded in Kalamian’s six seasons as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The two have stayed in touch in the year since Kalamian made the move to Toronto, and since Durant made his bold move to the Golden State Warriors this summer. The content of Durant’s text did surprise the coach that day, though. “Your two guys are the best. I’m jealous of their relationship, the way they get along with each other and the way they play together. The way they enjoy each other, it’s great,” Kalamian said of that text on Monday, as the Raptors finished up their practice. Durant, all the way from the Olympics in Rio, was in awe of the friendship that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had on display with the U.S. men’s basketball team. “I think it’s kind of what he wants,” Kalamian continued. “He wants that bond with someone . . . and I think he’s going to find that. “Early on in OKC, we had that.”
Both players are among the NBA’s most talented, but that bond that Durant is after had been gone for some time. It disappeared at the start of the 2012-13 season when the Thunder traded James Harden to Houston. “We had that (bond) really with James Harden. He was a connector of everyone. He brought Westbrook, Durant and (Serge) Ibaka and they all kind of connected, they all came together,” Kalamian said. “James is a big reason and when he left I think Kevin said . . . that trade was the beginning of the end for him and now there wasn’t that connection as much. “Kevin and Russell, they respect the heck out of each other, no question about it. They played well together, they work well together, they communicate, but I think the connection was lost a little bit for whatever reason.”