Nick Nurse

Nick Nurse Officially Named Team Canada’s Head Coach

Fresh off an NBA championship in his first season with the Raptors, Nick Nurse has lined up another head coaching gig. According to a press release, Nurse has officially been named the head coach of Team Canada ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

While Nurse’s appointment as the coach of the Canadian men’s basketball program wasn’t officially finalized until today, a report back in May indicated that he would be the choice. His commitment will run through the 2020 Olympics, Team Canada announced today (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

“Nick fits our Gold Medal Profile as he is a proven leader with extensive experience coaching FIBA, NBA and other professional leagues around the world,” Team Canada GM Rowan Barrett said in a statement. “His coaching pedigree shows his ability to win at some of the highest levels and he has a tremendous understanding of the FIBA game and our Canadian NBA players. We strongly believe that this unique combination gives our players the best opportunity for success at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

It remains to be seen which players will be representing Canada at the 2019 World Cup — or at the 2020 Olympics, should the team qualify. With Nurse leading the way, perhaps a few more NBA players will be interested in participating.

Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks, Dwight Powell, and Khem Birch are among the NBA veterans who are Canadian.

A handful of incoming rookies could also receive consideration for the World Cup roster, as R.J. Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Brandon Clarke were among the six Canadians drafted last Thursday.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Draft, Anunoby

The Sixers want to select someone in the mold of Landry Shamet with the No. 24 overall pick.

“[Shamet has] always been an overcomer and mature and very very self-aware,” senior director of scouting Vince Rozman said (via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “…I think those are the guys that tend to make it in that range, because they know their role and they know what’s going to be asked of them.”

Pompey suggests that Cameron Johnson fits the profile and speculates that the UNC product may slip in the draft because of his age. Johnson turned 23 in March.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Raptors Notes: Nurse, Leonard, Anunoby

Fresh off his team’s Game 6 victory over the Bucks which sent Toronto to the Finals, Raptors coach Nick Nurse has apparently achieved another honor. He will coach Canada’s national team at the FIBA World Cup in China, Peter Yannopoulos of TSN tweets.

Canada Basketball, which hasn’t officially confirmed the coaching change, began courting Nurse prior to the postseason, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Nurse, who was an assistant for Team Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, would replace Hornets assistant Jay Triano as Canada’s coach, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets.

We have more on the newly crowned Eastern Conference champions:

  • Toronto president Masai Ujiri had a strong response for Kawhi Leonard during their first meeting after the blockbuster trade with San Antonio last season, as Michael Lee of The Athletic details. Leonard asked Ujiri why he made the trade despite Leonard’s intention to opt out of his contract after the season. “Because you’re the best player in the league,” Ujiri told Leonard. That bold gamble has paid off, Lee notes.
  • The Raptors are optimistic that OG Anunoby will play at some point in the Finals, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. Anunoby has not played since an emergency appendectomy last month. The last appearance by the reserve small forward was April 9th. The gaps in-between games should also help Leonard, who is dealing with a leg injury, Wolstat adds.
  • Nurse’s G League success — he won championships with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Iowa Energy — prepared him well for the Raptors gig, Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days.com details in a story originally posted prior to the season.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, King, Hernandez, Raptors

Knicks president Steve Mills broke his silence last week but declined to address whether the team will look to trade its lottery pick in a deal for disgruntled New Orleans star Anthony Davis, as relayed by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

The Knicks were awarded the No. 3 pick from the NBA’s Draft Lottery, something many fans saw as a bitter disappointment. The fans of New York, Mills says, should still be excited about where the team is positioned entering this summer.

“We’re excited about where we are,’’ Mills said Friday at the NBA draft combine, according to Berman. “We know we’ll get a good player at 3. So it’s something we’re excited about and look forward to.’’

With the Pelicans locked into Zion Williamson and Grizzlies reportedly focused on Ja Morant, the leading candidate for the Knicks could be Duke standout R.J. Barrett. In addition to the third pick, New York is starting to prepare for a pivotal free agency period — one that could shape the team’s future for better or worse.

“We want to build this team the right way,’’ Mills said. “We’ve always said we’re going to continue to work hard during the draft process. We believe we’re a team that can draft well and this is all part of our plan and growing our team.’’

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Leonard, Small Lineup, Nurse

Kyle Lowry is facing a critical point not only in the Raptors‘ current playoff series, but maybe in his future in Toronto, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. A loss in the conference semifinals would likely lead to major changes for the organization, which could include moving on from Lowry, who will make $33.5MM next season in the final year of his contract.

The Raptors need more offense from Lowry, who made just two shots from the field and finished with seven points in a Game 3 loss. With Pascal Siakam listed as doubtful for today because of a calf contusion, Toronto will need someone to provide extra scoring punch.

“I passed up a lot of shots (in Game 3), and (I need to focus on) not anything but trying to make the next play, and the right play is me shooting sometimes,” Lowry said. “And overthinking that is trying to get everybody involved or get an easier shot or get someone else going. It’s kind of been one of the things where I shouldn’t have done (that) as much. But I’ve done it, but next game, and for the games going on, I’ve got to be a little bit more assertive.”

There’s more this morning from Toronto:

  • Toronto may be at a crossroads regarding its future, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. A loss today would put the Raptors in a 3-1 hole, making it unlikely that they’ll win the series, which in turn makes it harder to imagine that Kawhi Leonard will stay in Toronto, Ziller notes. Leonard is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and is rumored to want to play in Los Angeles. Siakam looks like a future star, but if Leonard leaves, the Raptors will be left with an aging core of Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
  • The Raptors may move away from their smaller lineups after being dominated inside in Game 3, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. That means the trio of Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell may not take the floor together in today’s game, which could result in more minutes for Leonard and Patrick McCaw. “Obviously you look at — jeez, they just look bigger, and the size problem, and with Kyle-Fred-Norm out there we get a little small, right?” coach Nick Nurse said. “But there’s some things we can do with the rotations. We’ll take a look at that, but we can get bigger out there.”
  • Max Whittle of Sky Sports examines Nurse’s journey from the British Basketball League to the NBA playoffs.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Raptors, Ntilikina

The Sixers may look to put the ball in Jimmy Butler‘s hands more often after his recent return from injury, Brian Seltzer of the team’s official site writes. Previously, head coach Brett Brown had used the All-Star swingman off the ball.

I liked what I saw,” said Brown following the Sixers’ Tuesday night victory, a game in which Butler had a plus-26 rating. “We didn’t really run complicated offense. It was quite simple and spaced, and I thought he did a really good job with that.

The Sixers, of course, have done just fine with Butler in his traditional swingman role – they’re 33-18 after all – but with the playoffs approaching and this roster intent on making a deep run, Brown believes that exploring additional offensive options will serve them well.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Through the first 51 games of the 2018/19 season, the Raptors have used 14 different starting lineups, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. After all that tinkering, head coach Nick Nurse is eager to carve out a rotation that he can stick with. “It would be really nice to figure out exactly who is going to be in there. How we’re going to do it. Who is going to play where, minutes, all that kind of stuff,” Nurse said.
  • The Celtics, whom Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald believes have the best to offer in an Anthony Davis trade, should come out ahead regardless of what happens in New Orleans this week. He argues that Boston will either be first in line to trade for him in the summer or be able to watch another team decimate its core to acquire him ahead of the trade deadline. The C’s, it’s worth noting, are unable to deal for Davis this season as the CBA’s Rose Rule forbids it.
  • A groin strain will sideline Frank Ntilikina at a time when the Knicks could have finally gotten a chance to take a good, long look at him, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Incumbent starter Emmanuel Mudiay also happens to be out two to three weeks with his own injury.

Atlantic Notes: Powell, Sixers, Nurse, Nets

Raptors guard Norman Powell made his return Wednesday after missing six weeks with a separated shoulder, seeing 14 minutes of action and working hard to regain his usual game shape. His return gave a much-needed boost of energy to a team already dealing with injuries to Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and others.

“Yeah, (Powell) just was really doing a good job of fulfilling a role, playing hard on (defense), taking the open situations on offense, not forcing the issue as much (as he has in the past),” coach Nick Nurse said postgame, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.

“It’s what we need him to do, especially now coming off the injury. He just needs to kind of play hard and settle in on the offensive end.”

Powell gave a solid effort in his first 12 games this season, with the 25-year-old suffering his shoulder injury on Nov. 5. Powell has averaged 4.8 points per game this season, shooting 46% from the field and 38% from behind the arc.

His return gives Toronto another backcourt option behind Lowry and Danny Green when healthy, with Fred VanVleet and C.J. Miles earning more playing time in his absence.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Locating trades to improve a struggling bench could be difficult for the Sixers, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic writes. Philly sports a dominant core three of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid in their starting five, but the team’s bench has mostly struggled this season. The Sixers currently hold a 21-12 record and could look to deal second-year guard Markelle Fultz as the Feb. 7 trade deadline nears.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was fined $15K by the NBA on Wednesday for public criticism of the officiating, the league announced in a press release. Nurse’s comments came after Toronto’s 95-86 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday. “It’s ridiculous,” Nurse said at the time, upset that Kawhi Leonard wasn’t getting more calls on drives to the rim. “The guy is one of the best players in the league. He doesn’t complain. They just turn their head and go the other way, and it’s been going on all year.”
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports compares the Nets to the hungry, inexperienced Lakers team before LeBron James joined the franchise, describing the similarities between the two in detail. Brooklyn, recovering from several underwhelming seasons, has won seven straight games around their young core as they await a potential future star free agent.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Nurse, Harris, Young

As the Knicks prepare to host the Warriors on Friday night, a banner of Kevin Durant in a Knicks jersey rests outside of Madison Square Garden. Although its creator is unknown, the large, rectangular message reads: “Can you make NY Sports great again?”

Durant, who’s set to become a free agent in July, is expected to receive interest from several teams with maximum-salary space across the league. The Knicks could be one of these teams, with Durant likely to be at the top of their free-agent list.

“I don’t really know how to feel about that type of stuff,” Durant said, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “It’s cool. No disrespect, but I’m not really impressed with that type of stuff.”

Next to Durant on the banner is budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis, a selling piece for the Knicks to help attract free agents in the summer of 2019. In addition to Durant, the team could target the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler or Kyrie Irving.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Nick Nurse could be the key to the Raptors‘ reset, Jake Fischer details in a piece for SI’s The Crossover. Nurse was hired as Raptors head coach this past offseason and has guided the team to a 5-0 record, quickly earning the respect of players, assistants and fans.
  • Nets guard Joe Harris has started the 2018/19 season on a good note, shooting the ball well and proving his worth after signing a new deal with the team this summer, as detailed in a piece by Nets Daily. Harris signed a two-year, $16MM contract to rejoin the club in the offseason, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds on Wednesday against Cleveland.
  • Despite being heavily criticized for trading the rights to Luka Doncic for Trae Young on draft night, the Hawks may have secured a long-term building block in Young, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor writes. Young is making a good early impression, averaging 21.5 points and 7.5 assists through four games.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Smith, Williams, Brand

Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard showed flashes of brilliance in his debut with the team on Saturday, finishing with 12 points, three assists and one steal in 19 minutes of action.

“I think everybody saw Kawhi, he was shaking off some rust, right?” coach Nick Nurse asked postgame, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “But you can obviously see the level that he has and I think he looks like we’re all running around really fast and he gets it and everything goes into slow motion. It’s kind of a gift for guys that are as good as him and it’s neat to watch, too.”

Leonard was traded to the Raptors in July after a tumultuous end to his stint with the Spurs. He missed most of last season due to injury, with Saturday’s preseason game marking his first contest since January.

“I think it’s just going to take on-court minutes, getting the experience together, going out there and playing and getting a feel for the overall team, the overall game that he likes to play,” Kyle Lowry said of Leonard. “And the pace. We played at a really good pace tonight. It was a fun game, just good to get out there and compete against another team.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

 

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Loyd, Nader, Knicks’ Plans

Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving fully expects to be ready for the start of training camp, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. Irving told Goodman he hadn’t yet participated in a 5-on-5 full contact scrimmage but he has been working out with his trainer. He underwent a surgical procedure on his left knee in early April in which he had two screws removed. At that time, the team provided a projected recovery time of four to five months.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Combo guard Jordan Loyd is finalizing a buyout agreement with Turkish club Darussafaka, which will allow him to sign a two-way contract with the Raptors, Sportando reports. Loyd, who played with the Raptors’ summer-league squad, spent last season in Israel after playing the previous season in the G League. The 6’4” Loyd made a strong impression on Toronto’s brass while mostly playing the point in Las Vegas, leading to the contract offer.
  • The Celtics will pay the Thunder $450K before December 2nd as part of the Abdel Nader trade, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The Celtics, who will get a trade exception at the same amount, will essentially be paying the guaranteed portion of Nader’s contract, Pincus notes. The swingman, who was on the verge of being waived, was dealt to OKC for guard Rodney Purvis.
  • The current Knicks’ front office is not fully committed to signing two top-level free agents next summer and that could be a good thing, as Sean Deveney of the Sporting News explains. The Knicks would have to clear a lot of cap space to get into that position and would likely have to give up a lottery pick to move a bad contract, Deveney continues. With a young core that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, dumping a high pick to improve their free-agent market prospects sounds unwise, Deveney adds.
  • The Raptors have officially added Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo, Nate Bjorkgren and Phil Handy to Nick Nurse’s coaching staff, the team’s media relations department tweets.