Nick Nurse

Raptors Notes: Offseason, Nurse, Roster Needs

During his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday, Raptors president and vice chairman Masai Ujiri spoke about potentially adding a reliable backup point guard to help ease the burden on Fred VanVleet, per Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star. Ujiri also said Toronto could use a center who can shoot, defend the rim, and switch defensively. However, he acknowledged that finding those players won’t be easy, given what the team asks of its rotation players — especially on defense.

“Yes, it is a high standard … we want to play on both sides of the court, that’s really important, and there’s a fine line,” Ujiri said. “There’s a lot of luck to it when you’re trying to find those guys that actually fit, that really, really fit. We’re hoping. I trust our scouts, our player personnel guys, they’ve done an excellent job. If we can’t find then, we’ll develop them. That’s what we’re hoping.”

As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, the Raptors will have to decide this summer how much long-term money they’re willing to add to their books. VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could be in line for raises as soon as 2023, while Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby can become free agents in 2024. In other words, the team will have to be wary about how it approaches multiyear commitments for free agents, including Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young.

“I think there are things we’re really going to evaluate the next few days,” Ujiri said when asked about possible multiyear deals. “This is what you guys making me do this press conference right after the season (causes). If you’d waited three weeks, then I’d (have) been able to tell you what all our meetings (yielded) and all the things that we want to do. But right now, I don’t have an answer for you.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Addressing the report that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is a top target for the Lakers, Ujiri dismissed that rumor, according to Koreen. “No team has contacted me, and I see all the stuff you see.” Ujiri said. “I dream like they dream. I want (Lionel) Messi. I want (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I want Kobe Bryant. So they can keep dreaming. I dream, too.”
  • Contrary to popular belief, Toronto’s biggest need isn’t at center, but on the perimeter, contends Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. While the Raptors would certainly inquire if a big man like Rudy Gobert or Myles Turner become available, they don’t want to commit to a lesser center who doesn’t fit their system, according to Lewenberg, who says the club “desperately” needs more shooting and possibly another shot creator.
  • Toronto hasn’t historically been a marquee NBA free agent destination, but Nurse – who spoke this week about wanting to add more catch-and-shoot players and athletic wings – sees no reason why the Raptors shouldn’t be able to attract talent.I think we got a lot to offer here,” Nurse said (Twitter link via Eric Koreen of The Athletic). “We’ve got a winning team, great fans, first-class organization. I’d want to play here.”
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previews some of the big decisions facing the Raptors this offseason, while Drew Maresca of BasketballNews.com takes a look at how the team retooled its roster following Kawhi Leonard‘s 2019 departure.

Pacific Notes: Green, Nurse, Lakers, Ayton

Having received a costly suspension for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals after having accumulated four flagrant foul points during that postseason, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green is conscious of not repeating that mistake in this year’s playoffs, writes Eric He of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Green was called for a Flagrant 2 foul in Sunday’s win over Memphis, resulting in two flagrant foul points. If he’s called for another Flagrant 2 foul or two Flagrant 1 fouls in this year’s postseason, he would subject to an automatic one-game suspension.

“My biggest worry moving forward is that gives me two flagrant foul points, and as we know I’ve been ejected for accumulation of flagrant foul points,” Green said, per He, during an emergency episode of his podcast on Sunday night. “So I’m hoping that the right thing will happen, and that it will at least get rescinded to a Flagrant 1.”

Green later expressed even more confidence that the NBA would review his foul and make an adjustment: “I’m looking forward to it getting rescinded.”

[UPDATE: NBA Won’t Rescind Draymond Green’s Flagrant 2 Foul]

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Asked today about reports that the Lakers are interested in him and whether he plans to remain in Toronto going forward, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse dismissed those L.A. rumors. I don’t know where that stuff comes from and I’m focused on coaching this team (the Raptors),” Nurse said (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
  • Bill Oram of The Athletic makes the case that the Lakers shouldn’t necessarily trade Russell Westbrook this offseason, arguing that the team won’t have any real chance of “winning” a Westbrook deal since his value is so low. If Los Angeles hangs onto the veteran point guard into next season, it’s possible he could increase his value a little, or new in-season trade opportunities could arise, Oram writes.
  • Deandre Ayton‘s ability to take advantage of frontcourt mismatches on offense and to capably switch onto perimeter players on defense makes him a potential X-factor in the Suns’ second-round series vs. Dallas, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link). Ayton will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, R. Williams, Sixers, Durant

The Celtics are still planning to play without Robert Williams III for their entire first-round series against the Nets, Conor Roche of Boston.com writes. Williams suffered a torn meniscus on March 28 and could still return at some point this postseason.

“He’s progressing nicely, coming along. But we’re prepared to play a series without him,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “If we get a surprise and he’s back early, that would be nice. But we’re prepared to play this series without him.”

Boston started Daniel Theis in place of Williams on Sunday, which allowed them to continue playing big. Williams has established himself as one of the league’s best defensive big men, averaging a career-high 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 61 games this season.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers and Raptors coach Nick Nurse understand the playoffs are about making adjustments, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Toronto lost Game 1 of its first-round series against Philadelphia 131-111, allowing Tyrese Maxey to score 38 points. The Sixers also made just three turnovers and shot 51% from the floor.
  • The Sixers were perfectly prepared for Game 1, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice writes. Philadelphia kept the rebounding battle close, which was something the club discussed before the game. “All the days of practice that we had, we knew that’s the type of team that they are, scrappy,” Tobias Harris said. “We’ve been drilling it all day in practice, and when we got out there today, that was our emphasis from early in the game. We had to match their physicality and even be more physical than them.”
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines the evolution of Kevin Durant‘s playmaking. Durant averaged 29.9 points and a career-high 6.4 assists per game for the Nets this season. He recorded 16 assists against Indiana in the team’s final regular-season game, then followed it up with 11 assists against Cleveland in the play-in tournament.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Westbrook, M. Jackson, Coaching Candidates

LeBron James may be leaning toward playing out his current contract and making a decision on his future next summer, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. In August, James will become eligible for a two-year extension that would pay him $97.1MM and tie him to the Lakers through the end of the 2024/25 season.

Although that’s more than he could get from any other team, the organization’s turmoil and lack of success on the court could make him think twice about extending him commitment to the Lakers. James, who said in February that he would like to someday be on the same team with his son, Bronny, could return to playing on one-year contracts the way he did during his second stint in Cleveland, Amick adds, citing sources close to the situation.

James is intrigued by by the idea of setting the all-time scoring record in a Lakers’ uniform, but he also wants to contend for championships, which may be out of reach in L.A. When asked about the extension on Monday, he didn’t offer a direct answer.

“The conversation hasn’t been talked about,” James responded. “Technically it’s because (with) the collective bargaining agreement (it) cannot even be discussed until later on in the year. So, you know, I know what’s out there. But we can’t even — myself and (agent) Rich (Paul) — can’t even begin to talk with (GM) Rob (Pelinka), or the front office at all, because of the collective bargaining agreement. So (when) we get to that point, we’ll see.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • If Russell Westbrook remains with the team next season, there will be “significant pressure” for him to become a sixth man, according to Amick, who states that “some key Lakers figures” thought that should have been his role this year. Westbrook clashed repeatedly with just-fired head coach Frank Vogel, so it’s possible that he would be more accommodating to a new coach.
  • James would be “very enthused” to see Mark Jackson become the team’s next head coach, Amick adds. Jackson, a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN, has been out of coaching since the Warriors fired him after the 2013/14 season. Amick notes that the Lakers haven’t always taken coaching advice from James, who preferred Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd before Vogel was hired in 2019.
  • Many of the prominent names mentioned in the Lakers’ coaching search are already under contract and may be out of reach, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Quin Snyder‘s deal with the Jazz runs for at least another year, and sources tell Turner that Snyder has less interest in the L.A. job after seeing how the organization mishandled Vogel’s firing. Nick Nurse has two years left on his contract in Toronto and it’s assumed around the league that the Raptors won’t let him leave, Turner adds, while Juwan Howard reportedly wants to stay at Michigan and coach his sons. However, even though he has three years left on his contract with the Sixers, Doc Rivers “should not be discounted as a candidate,” a source familiar with the situation tells Turner.

Lakers Rumors: Nurse, Davis, LeBron, Westbrook, Carmelo

Once the Lakers officially dismiss head coach Frank Vogel, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is expected to be one of the team’s top targets, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Lakers are hoping that Nurse is an option, according to Charania, who acknowledges that it’s unclear whether Nurse “will be attainable or whether he would have interest.”

In order to even talk to Nurse, the Lakers would have to get permission from the Raptors, since the former Coach of the Year remains under contract in Toronto for two more years. Nurse would then have to be interested in leaving a stable, well-run organization for one that was mired in dysfunction this season. And the Lakers would likely have to be willing to give up substantial draft compensation to acquire Nurse from the Raptors.

Given all of those obstacles, I’d be shocked if Nurse emerged as a realistic candidate for the Lakers’ job, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. As one Eastern Conference executive observed to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, Nurse is represented by Andy Miller at Klutch Sports, the same agency that reps LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“I would expect the Lakers to at least ask about Nick Nurse,” the executive told Deveney. “… He got the big contract with the Raptors and he is secure there. They’re not going to let him go. But it makes him look better and Klutch look better if they are asking for him, right? So yeah, I would not be surprised to see the Lakers ask about him but more as a favor to Klutch. Maybe they won’t because he is so far out of reach. But, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, that is how things work.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis said on Sunday that he still believes a roster built around him and LeBron James can contend for a title moving forward, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I think us two can. We’ve shown that we can,” Davis said.
  • While James and Davis are widely expected to remain in Los Angeles going forward, Russell Westbrook‘s future is cloudier. According to Charania, rival executives believe the Pacers will be open to discussing trades involving Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield and could emerge as a Westbrook suitor, which is something Marc Stein suggested over the weekend. While Brogdon and Hield would be good fits on the Lakers’ roster, L.A. would likely have to attach sweeteners to Westbrook to realistically make any deal with Indiana.
  • James told reporters today that an MRI on his left ankle showed that he won’t require surgery or any injections, but he’ll have to stay off of it for the next four-to-six weeks (Twitter link via Mark Medina of NBA.com). LeBron also said that he and the Lakers could have extension discussions later this offseason once CBA rules allow for it (Twitter link via McMenamin). James will become extension-eligible in August.
  • Asked about potential roster moves and the possibility of playing with Westbrook next season, James said he’ll defer to the front office. I’m not here to make decisions for the front office and that nature,” he said (Twitter links). “But I loved being teammates with Russ.”
  • Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com spoke to multiple league sources about the Lakers’ disappointing season and the perception that head coach Frank Vogel was being undermined. “On a regular basis, (Kurt) Rambis would get on Vogel in front of staff and players — in practices, in the hallway where everybody can see it. He wasn’t taking it behind closed doors and laying it out,” one source said. “And what position does Rambis have? What’s his title? His title is friend of Jeanie Buss. Trust me, Frank Vogel would have been happy to have been fired from that mess.”
  • Addressing Vogel’s firing, Bill Oram of The Athletic contends that the way the news leaked – before the team formally informed Vogel – should be a warning sign for potential replacements.
  • Asked about his priorities in free agency this offseason, Carmelo Anthony said he’d like to win a championship, but also wants to be somewhere he’ll be happy. “If I gotta be unhappy to try to go fight and win a championship, I don’t want that. I don’t want that unhappiness,” he said, per McMenamin (Twitter link). “… I think at this point in my carer, it’s about just being happy and being able to wake up and come to work every day with a good attitude. Being positive.”

Raptors Notes: Boucher, Roster, Nurse, Tax

After missing the entire preseason due to a dislocated finger, Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been cleared to return for the team’s regular season opener, writes Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (link via The Toronto Star).

Boucher had a breakout year in 2020/21, averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in 60 games (24.2 MPG). He’s expected to once again play a regular role in the Raptors’ frontcourt this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022.

“My whole career, my whole time in Toronto, nothing has been promised … I had to work for everything, I see it the same way this year,” Boucher said of his mindset in a contract year, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “… At the end of the day I gotta be consistent, that’s the one remaining thing I gotta focus on.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto’s roster, which is heavy on long, versatile forwards, is unlikely any group the franchise has put together in its 27 years of existence, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith observes, 11 of the Raptors’ 15 players on standard contracts have listed heights of at least 6’7″, but none are taller than 6’9″.
  • Having lost veteran leaders like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol in recent years, head coach Nick Nurse will be tasked with leading a less experienced group this season, Smith writes for The Toronto Star. While Nurse adjusts his style to accommodate the new-look roster, Fred VanVleet says he’s helping the newcomers adapt to Nurse’s outside-the-box approach to coaching. “He’s a little weird at times, but he won us a championship, so he knows what he’s doing,” VanVleet said.
  • Following the Raptors’ roster cuts on the weekend, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca took an in-depth look at the team’s cap and tax situation and which recently-waived players are – or aren’t – expected to play in the G League with the Raptors 905. Toronto’s team salary is currently above the luxury tax line, but the club still has the flexibility to duck below that line after pushing back the salary guarantee dates for Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga.

Nate Bjorkgren Back With Raptors As Assistant

The Raptors are listing Nate Bjorkgren as an assistant coach, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca tweets.

Bjorkgren was at Toronto’s training camp as a consultant and it seems the club has rehired him in his previous capacity. Bjorkgren was on Nick Nurse’s staff until he was hired as the Pacers’ head coach prior to last season. His tumultuous one-year stint ended in June when the team fired him.

Bjorkgren reportedly had major communication issues with players and coaches alike in Indiana and the front office opted to bring back Rick Carlisle for a second stint. Bjorkgren had one more guaranteed year on his contract.

He was an assistant on Nurse’s Team Canada staff this summer.

And-Ones: Redick, Ball, Bates, Nurse

J.J. Redick, who finished last year on the Mavericks after being traded from the Pelicans, has no plans to sign a deal before training camp, he said on a recent episode of his podcast The Old Man And The Three.

You know, I would say, pretty much definitively, like, I won’t be in a training camp to start the season,” he said. “That’s not gonna happen. So, you know, I’ll join a team at some point this season and finish the year and try to go get a chip. That’s the plan.”

Redick was vocally unhappy with what he felt were broken promises by Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin, which may have contributed to his desire to take his time in finding a new team.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • LiAngelo Ball feels that he proved his worth with the Hornets’ Summer League team, writes Roderick Boone of Sports Illustrated. “I feel like I belong in the league, but I know I can show more than what I did,” Ball said. “I’m not satisfied with how I played this last game, but overall it was all right.” Ball started hot in his first game, but ended up shooting 37.5% from three with more turnovers than assists. ESPN’s Jordan Schultz quotes Hornets’ assistant Jay Triano as saying: “Great kid. Love him. He was at the facility practicing everyday for two months to play in the Summer League. Shows a ton of character.”
  • High school basketball phenomenon Emoni Bates said that the fame of being on the Sports Illustrated cover – and generally being considered the top young prospect in the country from age 15 – was “fun at first,” but soon grew irritating, writes Jeff Goodman of Stadium. “The things people say definitely affect me,” Bates said. “People don’t really know me. If people knew who I really was, I don’t think they’d be saying some of the things they say.” Bates admits that he considered quitting, but said that he has finally gotten back to enjoying the game.
  • Nick Nurse will remain in his role as Team Canada’s head coach during the lead-up to the 2024 Olympics, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Nurse is hoping he can recruit the best of Canada’s deep crop of talented players to join him over the next three years. Grange writes that Nurse wants a core group to train next summer and be ready for the World Cup qualifiers in June and August.

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Nurse, Second-Round Picks

There are positive signs that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri plans to sign an extension, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca reports. He’s conducting business as usual, focusing on the draft and free agency. A player agent told Grange “he’s coming back” and another source at the recent combine said Ujiri was acting as if he’s “on a mission to win another title.”

Ujiri is technically a free agent this summer and there are still some concerns another franchise, such as the Clippers, could swoop in at the last minute and try to woo him away. But for now a return to the Raptors is expected.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Coach Nick Nurse’s former agent has filed a civil lawsuit against him, claiming breach of contract, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Warren LeGarie is seeking financial relief, claiming he had a contract with Nurse through the 2023/24 season. Nurse, who is now represented by Andy Miller, agreed to a contract extension in September. According to the suit, Nurse’s salary for this season was readjusted to the $6-8MM range and the four-year extension was worth $32MM. LeGarie is seeking a commission for the portion of the contract he claims he negotiated.
  • The team owns the No. 46 and 47 overall picks in this month’s draft and Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines six wing players it could take with those second-round selections. The group includes Michigan State’s Aaron Henry and Florida’s Scottie Lewis.
  • In case you missed it, Murphy examined the logistics this week of a potential trade with the Warriors involving Pascal Siakam.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Udoka, Sixers, Nurse

Kevin Durant proved he’s still an elite player after his long absence following Achilles surgery, but he won’t hold fond memories of this season because of the way it ended, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets went through an epic second-round battle with the Bucks before falling in overtime of Game 7, and Durant said on his “Boardroom: Out of Office” podcast that the disappointment overshadows everything else.

“I’m getting so many congratulations now: I didn’t do anything. We lost,” he said. “I knew I could play, I knew I was nice. I’ve scored 48 before. I had big games before, I made big shots before. So it didn’t feel like anything special to me, because we lost.”

Durant deserves credit for changing the culture around the franchise, Lewis adds. His decision to join the team as a free agent in 2019, along with Kyrie Irving, instantly made Brooklyn one of the glamor spots in the NBA. The addition of James Harden in a January trade turned the Nets into title favorites, maybe for several years.

“Just the camaraderie we built with the fans. The culture we kind of built around Barclays and just Nets culture in general,” Durant said. “People kind of look at the Nets now and like, ‘All right, they can be contenders next year.’ I like that part of it. I was excited about that going forward. I was excited about that even in the regular season. It felt pretty solid to start to build a culture. I feel like a lot Nets fans feel like, ‘Yo, we got a chance.’ To make some noise next year.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ime Udoka‘s duties with Team USA in the Olympics may prevent him from coaching the Celtics‘ Summer League squad, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. New head coaches often handle Summer League teams, but the gold medal game in Tokyo is set for August 7, a day before the start of play in Las Vegas. Himmelsbach expects Romeo Langford, Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith to all be part of Boston’s contingent, along with Moses Brown, who was acquired from the Thunder in a trade last month.
  • The quick turnarounds by the Suns and Hawks, who both missed the playoffs last season, shows that teams don’t need to go through years of losing like the Sixers did with “The Process,” argues Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse isn’t sure of his future as head coach of the Canadian national team, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Canada will miss the Olympics after falling to the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament Saturday. “I love coaching and I love coaching this team, and Toronto, and I’m just trying to help basketball grow,” Nurse said. “… I just want this team to be as good as it can possibly be.”