Raptors Notes: Nurse, Casey, Messina, Valanciunas

Assembling a staff will be the first priority for Nick Nurse, who was officially hired as the Raptors’ new head coach earlier today, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. With many of Dwane Casey’s assistants possibly following him to Detroit, Nurse, an assistant in Toronto for the past five years, may have to build his staff from scratch.

One possibility, according to Wolstat, is Nate Bjorkgren, a longtime friend who worked on Nurse’s staff at Iowa in the G League. Bjorkgren landed a job as an advance scout with the Raptors last fall after being let go when Earl Watson was fired in Phoenix. Wolstat also cites a report out of Italy that Spanish National team head coach Sergio Scariolo and former German National Team head coach Andrea Trinchieri are being considered. Nurse was a successful coach in Europe for 12 years before coming to the United States.

Current Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian isn’t expected to remain on staff, according to Wolstat, and may take a job with the Clippers if he doesn’t go to the Pistons.

There’s more tonight out of Toronto:

  • The relationship between Nurse and Casey became severely strained after the Raptors were bounced from the playoffs, according to Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star, with a source telling Feschuk there’s “no love lost between ’em.” Casey gave Nurse his first NBA opportunity, hiring him out of the G League in 2013. Feschuk also questions whether it was the right choice to promote one of Casey’s assistants when fellow finalist Ettore Messina could have provided a new direction for the organization.
  • The Raptors’ front office was divided between Nurse and Messina over the weekend, tweets Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports. Messina, an assistant with the Spurs, reportedly performed well in both interviews.
  • The decision to hire Nurse means center Jonas Valanciunas is unlikely to be traded, relays Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Valanciunas worked frequently with Nurse during the season to try to develop a perimeter game, and that effort figures to expand now that Nurse is in charge.
  • The decision to replace Casey indicates that team president Masai Ujiri is feeling pressure to make changes, Deveney adds in the same piece. Ujiri’s job remains safe, but his preference to avoid major moves in the past hasn’t resulted in playoff success.
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4 thoughts on “Raptors Notes: Nurse, Casey, Messina, Valanciunas

  1. Dionis

    I’ve always said it Jonás Valunciunas is the player that will take the Raptors to the next level. If Nurse can further Jonas’s development they could compete with Boston and Philly next season.

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    • Dodgethis

      On what planet? Nurse has already been working with him 1 on 1, now he’s in charge of the whole team. And even if Jonas suddenly becomes even an average player, how exactly are the raptors matching up with Anyone? With 2 guards and a semi decent center? Boston is at least a tier ahead of them, as they were competitive without their 2 best players, and Philly is expected to be a serious finals contender next season.

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    • canajay12

      It’s probably his conditioning that’s the biggest issue. He comes in and dominates for a few minutes and then gets tired and looks sloppy on his post moves.

      I think he needs to stop being out at the perimeter so much and focus on rebounding especially offensive boards. I don’t know how many times I saw him at the three point line when shots were going up and you’d see derozan or anonoby going against love and Thompson for boards.

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  2. cesc

    Really, Jonas? Embiid can destroy him everyday of the week & twice on Sundays.

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