Nick Nurse

Bucks Hire Adrian Griffin As Head Coach

JUNE 5: Griffin has officially been named the Bucks’ head coach, according to a team press release.

“Adrian is a widely-respected coach and former player, who brings great leadership and experience to our team,” GM Jon Horst said in a statement. “His championship-level coaching pedigree, character, basketball acumen and ability to connect with and develop players make him the ideal choice to lead our team. He has earned this opportunity.”

MAY 27: The Bucks intend to hire Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin as their next head coach, reports Adrian Wonjarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). According to Wojnarowski, the two sides are in the process of finalizing a contract agreement.

Griffin, one of three reported finalists for the open coaching position in Milwaukee, was the only one without any previous head coaching experience.

Kenny Atkinson and Nick Nurse were also said to be in the running, though Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that the Bucks ultimately decided between Griffin and Atkinson after Nurse pulled out of the process.

An NBA player from 1999-2008, Griffin transitioned to coaching after his retirement and has been an assistant on NBA staffs for the last 15 years. He actually began his coaching career with the Bucks from 2008-10 before moving on to Chicago (2010-15), Orlando (2015-16), and Oklahoma City (2016-18). He has spent the last five years as an assistant on Nurse’s staff in Toronto.

Griffin has received head coaching consideration from multiple clubs in recent years, including the Pistons, Raptors, and Rockets this spring. He filled in as Toronto’s head coach on an interim basis in February while Nurse was away from the team for family reasons and spoke about how the experience was “good practice” for his goal of eventually getting his own team.

Griffin was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife on social media in 2020, but vehemently denied those allegations and never faced criminal charges. He later filed a defamation suit in response.

Milwaukee launched a head coaching search after dismissing Mike Budenholzer in early May. Budenholzer earned Coach of the Year honors in 2019, won a championship in 2021, and led the team to an NBA-best 58-24 record in 2022/23. However, the top-seeded Bucks were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion by the No. 8 Heat, resulting in Budenholzer’s ouster.

The Bucks reportedly interviewed at least a dozen candidates before narrowing their focus to their three finalists. According to Charania, the second round of their search included meetings with star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was previously said to be “intrigued” by Griffin and endorsed the hiring.

The finalists met with Antetokounmpo on Tuesday, then with Bucks ownership on Wednesday, per Charania. On Thursday, general manager Jon Horst held a meeting to discussion the decision — that meeting included ownership, and Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton were invited to attend, a league source tells The Athletic.

Nurse’s withdrawal from the process is an interesting subplot. He’s believed to be very much in the running for the head coaching vacancies in Philadelphia and Phoenix, so it’s possible he’s focused on landing one of those jobs. A report this week indicated Nurse had “strong support” from some members of the Bucks’ organization, but that support wasn’t unanimous.

The Suns, Sixers, Raptors, and Pistons remain in the market for new head coaches, with the Bucks joining the Rockets as teams that have completed coaching searches so far this spring.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Nurse, Embiid, House

Asked during his introductory press conference this week about how he’d pitch James Harden on coming back to Philadelphia and playing for him next season, new Sixers head coach Nick Nurse told reporters that “winning has to be the sell,” according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“‘Can we be good enough to win it all?’ That’s got to be a goal of his,” Nurse said. “And if it is, then he should stay here and play for us, because I think there’s a possibility of that.”

According to Nurse, he has already touched base with Harden and intends to meet with him – and every other player on the roster – in the not-too-distant future.

As Bontemps writes, Nurse also said that a combination of talent on the roster and stability at the ownership level made Philadelphia his top choice as a sought a new job following his exit from Toronto. Nurse was also said to be in the mix for the coaching vacancies in Milwaukee and Phoenix — both teams have undergone ownership changes in recent months.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Nurse said during this week’s press conference that his years of experience game-planning against Joel Embiid with the Raptors should come in handy as he attempts to get the most out of the reigning MVP going forward, per Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. “We threw everything, almost everything you could possibly throw at a guy,” Nurse said. “It was that hard for us to try to stop him. We threw a lot at him. So, at least I think that we can offensively say, ‘This is what we did, and here’s how we can beat it,’ and we’ve almost covered most things.”
  • Kyle Neubeck of has a few more quotes from Nurse’s presser, including the new Sixers coach stating that he won’t necessarily be looking to reuse the strategies and playing styles he utilized with the Raptors. “What we did in Toronto, it’s just trying to maximize what the roster looked like,” Nurse explained. “We really had to generate turnovers to get out and score, transition, and in 2018 it was a different roster. We did have (Marc) Gasol so we played a different style and a different defense, and it’s going to be whatever’s best for this team.”
  • Following Danuel House‘s decision to pick up his player option for 2023/24, Neubeck wonders at whether we should expect House to play a role similar to the limited one he had in ’22/23 or if Nurse will want to try to get more out of him.

Coaching Notes: Vogel, Rockets, Nets, Pacers

The Suns didn’t fill their coaching vacancy until after the Sixers hired Nick Nurse, but sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Frank Vogel was the first choice in Phoenix all along. Nurse had an interview with the Suns and was among five finalists for the job, along with Vogel, Suns associate head coach Kevin Young, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez and former Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers.

After dismissing Monty Williams following a second-round playoff ouster, Phoenix was interested in finding someone with championship experience, according to Rankin, which is why Vogel, Nurse and Rivers were all contacted. Vogel benefited from his reputation as a strong defensive coach, as the Suns are determined to improve on that end of the court. The final five candidates met with team owner Mat Ishbia and president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones, Rankin adds.

Vogel became the frontrunner for the job after an impressive interview, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. Reports that Devin Booker pushed for Young to get the head coaching job are “overexaggerated,” Gambadoro adds (Twitter link). Young opted to remain with the team as an assistant coach. Gambadoro also disputes a report that Phoenix offered the job to Nurse (Twitter link).

There’s more coaching news to pass along:

  • Three members of Ime Udoka‘s coaching staff with the Celtics will join him in Houston, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Rockets are hiring Ben Sullivan, Mike Moser and Garrett Jackson, and Scotto states that they’re considering Boston assistant Aaron Miles, who has also received interest from other teams. Scotto adds that teams have also reached out to Celtics assistant Jarrell Christian, as head coach Joe Mazzulla is expected to rebuild his staff this summer.
  • Ronnie Burrell, who was named G League Coach of the Year with the Long Island Nets, will join Jacque Vaughn’s coaching staff in Brooklyn, Scotto tweets. Burrell has been with the G League team since 2019.
  • Former Pacers player Shayne Whittington has joined Indiana’s coaching staff, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Sixers Hire Nick Nurse As Head Coach

JUNE 1: The Sixers have officially hired Nurse as their head coach, the team announced in a press release.

“It’s been a fun challenge coaching against this group over the last five years. Now, I look forward to coaching the Sixers and doing my part to deliver for this tremendous fanbase,” Nurse said in a statement.

Majority owner and managing partner Josh Harris and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey also commented on hiring the former Raptors coach.

“Nick has solidified himself as one of the NBA’s best coaches and I’m excited to welcome him to Philadelphia,” Harris said. “Throughout his career, he has won at multiple levels, including on the biggest stage when he led Toronto to the 2019 NBA title. He is a smart, innovative and determined coach who really stood out in this process. No matter the hurdles we’ve faced, our goal remains to bring a championship to Philadelphia and Nick is the right coach to lead us forward.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Nick Nurse as the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers,” Morey added. “His championship pedigree and diversity of experience mixed with his uniquely creative approach made him our top priority. We are confident that his leadership and expertise will help us unlock the full potential of our talented roster and bring an exciting new era of championship basketball to Philadelphia.”

MAY 29: The Sixers are hiring Nick Nurse to be their new head coach, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Nurse, who won a championship with the Raptors in 2018/19, his debut season as an NBA head coach, was dismissed after his fifth season at the helm. Toronto went 41-41 this past season and was eliminated in the play-in tournament.

The 55-year-old holds a career regular season record of 227-163 (.582 winning percentage), as well as 25-16 (.610) in the postseason. The Raptors made the playoffs in three of his five seasons.

Marc Stein first reported that there was growing buzz linking Nurse to Philadelphia. Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer has confirmed Wojnarowski’s report (via Twitter).

Nurse was also a finalist for the head coaching vacancies in Milwaukee and Phoenix, but he reportedly withdrew from consideration for the Bucks job. Milwaukee is hiring his former assistant, Adrian Griffin.

There was speculation that Nurse may have secured an offer — or multiple offers — after withdrawing from Milwaukee’s search. He ultimately chose the Sixers, who had an opening after firing Doc Rivers following another second-round playoff exit.

Nurse is entering the fray as James Harden is expected to decline his player option in search of a long-term deal. Multiple reports have linked Harden to Houston.

Atlantic Notes: Nurse, Embiid, Quickley, Milutinov

Kyle Neubeck of takes a look at what the Sixers are getting in new head coach Nick Nurse, who gained a reputation as a creative defensive strategist in Toronto. As Neubeck observes, the presence of Joel Embiid will give Nurse the sort of rim-protecting center he never really had with the Raptors, which should help alleviate the pressure on Philadelphia’s perimeter players.

Nurse also represents the Sixers’ first head coaching hire since Daryl Morey assumed control of the front office, and it’s perhaps no coincidence that Morey has a history with Nurse, having hired him as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston’s G League affiliate) in 2011. While Morey and former head coach Doc Rivers weren’t necessarily a bad fit, there may be more shared views between Morey and Nurse, Neubeck writes.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Elsewhere on the Nurse front, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic wonders if Nurse will benefit from his familiarity with the Sixers, having faced them more than any other opponent while in Toronto. Meanwhile, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (via Twitter) that Nurse met with Embiid during the interview process, and says that meeting went well.
  • This offseason could present a clear picture of how the Knicks and the rest of the NBA value Immanuel Quickley, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who notes that the guard will be extension-eligible and could be discussed in trade talks again after being linked to the Donovan Mitchell rumors a year ago.
  • Serbian center Nikola Milutinov has officially parted with CSKA Moscow and become a free agent, according to A first-round pick in 2015, Milutinov never signed an NBA contract, but his rights are still held by the Nets, so his free agency could have NBA implications. There has been no real indication that Brooklyn intends to bring him stateside though, so the 28-year-old may simply join another team in Europe.

Community Shootaround: Nurse As Sixers’ Head Coach

Well, this ought to be interesting.

The Sixers are hiring former Raptors coach Nick Nurse as their head coach. Nurse and Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid will now pair together as the franchise looks to bring Philadelphia a long-awaited championship. The Sixers’ drought has reached 40 years and counting.

They have a history together as playoff foes. Toronto broke Philly’s hearts in the 2019 playoffs with Kawhi Leonard‘s basket that bounced four times on the rim proving to be the dagger. The Sixers had the KO punch last year during the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Nurse will also inherit a very talented young guard in Tyrese Maxey but the rest of the roster is in a state of flux. The Sixers could look to unload Tobias Harris, who is entering the final year of his contract. The bench figures to be revamped too, but the biggest offseason question is whether James Harden will decline his player option. Rumors have persisted for months that Harden wants to return to Houston.

Despite delivering a championship to the Raptors franchise, Nurse had a falling out with the front office. They felt he didn’t develop their bench players sufficiently and overworked his starters. There were also questions about accountability and his relationships with key players.

A fresh start for a talented coach could be the Sixers’ gain. That championship on his resume gives him immediate credibility.

It could also attract a top free agent such as Fred VanVleet, who tweeted out congratulations via an emoji after he heard the news.  VanVleet is expected to decline his player option so that he can enter the free agent market. He could be Harden’s replacement.

That brings us to our topic of the day: What do you think of Nick Nurse taking over as the Sixers’ head coach? Did the franchise make the right choice and do you feel Nurse can bring the franchise a long-awaited championship?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Stein’s Latest: Myers, Nurse, Sixers, Pacers, Draft

Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers was originally going to speak with the media last week for his end-of-season press conference, but it was pushed back to this week. As Marc Stein writes at Substack, there’s a belief that Myers doesn’t want to speak publicly without first deciding whether or not he’s going to stay with the team — the longtime executive’s contract expires at the end of June.

Myers’ presser could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Stein, who predicts that the 48-year-old will step away from his post and take a break from basketball for the time being. The Athletic first reported that vice president of basketball operations Mike Dunleavy Jr. is viewed as Myers’ “natural successor,” and Stein also believes the former NBA player would take over if Myers departs.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • There was growing buzz linking former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to the Sixers‘ coaching vacancy late Sunday night, Stein writes. Nurse has interviewed for several open coaching jobs this spring, including Philadelphia, Phoenix and Milwaukee. He’s a finalist for the Suns’ opening and had been a finalist for the Bucks’ lead job until he reportedly withdrew from consideration, leading to speculation that he either knew he wasn’t going to land the position or that he may have had an offer elsewhere. Keith Pompey reported Saturday that Nurse was evaluating his options between the Suns and Sixers.
  • “The rumbles are rising in volume” that the Pacers have designs on moving up in the 2023 NBA draft, according to Stein, who points out that Indiana controls three first-round picks — Nos. 7, 26 and 29. They also have two second-rounders — Nos. 32 and 55. Stein is at least the third reporter to suggest the Pacers might look to package their picks in some fashion.
  • As Stein details, one thing that could be beneficial for the Pacers is there are rumors the Hornets (No. 2), Trail Blazers (No. 3), Rockets (No. 4) and Pistons (No. 5) could be candidates for win-now deals with their own picks. It’s hard to envision what a deal would look like from the Pacers’ perspective in that scenario though, because presumably the rival teams might not be looking for extra draft picks if they want to win now. There aren’t that many win-now players on Indiana’s roster. Not that the Pacers don’t have good players, but several are young and aren’t going anywhere. Maybe Buddy Hield or T.J. McConnell would fit the bill? I’m not sure how enticing that would be, even though they’re both good players in different ways. Myles Turner would draw interest, but I’d be a little surprised if he’s moved after Indiana renegotiated and extended his contract.

And-Ones: Nurse, Carmelo, Luxury Tax, First-Round Picks

Former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is considering his options after reportedly taking his name out of the Bucks’ coaching search, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nurse had interviews this week with the Sixers and Suns, and sources tell Pompey that he’s reviewing the jobs to determine which would be the best fit. A source refused to confirm to Pompey that Philadelphia has made a formal offer.

Pompey points out that Nurse has a long-time working relationship with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, whom he worked with in Houston as head coach of the Rockets’ G League affiliate. Nurse built a reputation for developing talent during that time, winning two G League titles and sending 23 players to the NBA, Pompey adds.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Before announcing his retirement this week, Carmelo Anthony received interest from a “high-level” European team, Marc Stein writes in a Substack column. However, Anthony decided he didn’t want to play in another league after spending 19 years in the NBA.
  • Nine teams finished the season in tax territory, Eric Pincus notes in his updated luxury tax tracker on Sports Business Classroom. The Clippers had the highest team salary at $191,189,228 and will be assessed a $140,302,811 tax bill, per Pincus’ projections. The largest tax payment is $163,153,075 for the Warriors, who had $188,371,492 in salary. The Celtics, Nets, Mavericks, Nuggets, Lakers, Bucks and Suns are the other taxpaying teams. The other 21 franchises will receive about $15MM each through the tax, Pincus tweets.
  • NBA fans are anticipating an active summer trade market, but it could be limited by teams that have reduced their options due to past moves, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger notes that nine teams already owe unprotected future first-round picks, and others have lightly protected first-rounders on the move. Some executives at the draft combine suggested to Hollinger that front offices may become less likely to give up multiple first-rounders in the future, even when star players become available. Hollinger identifies the Hawks, Nets, Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves and Suns as teams that could be considered “stuck.”

Coaching Rumors: Nurse, Bucks, Lue, Young, Stackhouse

Nick Nurse has been busy interviewing this offseason after being dismissed from the Raptors, and is reportedly a finalist for a couple different coaching vacancies, including Milwaukee’s.

While Nurse has “strong support” within the Bucks, Ian Begley of hears from sources who say that support isn’t unanimous among the “key stakeholders” in the organization.

Nurse, who won a championship with Toronto in 2018/19, is also a finalist in Phoenix and interviewed with Philadelphia. The other two reported finalists for the Bucks are Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin.

Here are a few more coaching rumors from Begley:

  • Begley is the latest to report that Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, who is still under contract, is expected to stay with L.A. and not be made available for any openings this spring. The Suns were among the teams rumored to be interested in Lue, which Begley confirms.
  • Assistant coach Kevin Young is considered a strong candidate for the the Suns‘ coaching vacancy after an impressive interview, per Begley. Marc Stein previously reported that Young had a legitimate chance to be promoted, with an endorsement from star guard Devin Booker. Aside from Nurse and Young, Jordi Fernandez, Frank Vogel and Doc Rivers are considered by some reporters to be finalists for the Suns.
  • According to Begley’s sources, the Pistons did background research on Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse, but Begley doesn’t specify whether or not he actually interviewed. Stackhouse was rumored to be a coaching candidate for the Raptors and was mentioned as possible candidate for Detroit. A longtime former NBA player and assistant coach, Stackhouse has been with Vanderbilt since 2019. Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee and Jarron Collins are reportedly the finalists for the Pistons’ coaching job.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Embiid, Rivers, Offseason

As the rumors linking to James Harden to the Rockets persist, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggests it’s still an open question whether those leaks are primarily aimed at generating leverage for Harden in his talks with the Sixers. Appearing on Pardon The Interruption (video link) this week, Windhorst suggested that Philadelphia is reluctant to give Harden a maximum-salary contract, especially if no rival suitors are willing to do so.

“The 76ers have not shown an appetite to pay Harden the max,”Windhorst said (hat tip to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire). “That’s why they asked him to take a pay cut last year. The Rockets have the cap space. Do they do it? You know, there’s been a very hard rumor out there in the NBA about Harden’s intent to go back to Houston, and it makes you wonder if it’s being sold a little bit too hard and that’s certainly something that people are considering.

“I guess we’re gonna wait and find out, but again… the Sixers are not really motivated to pay him that max salary if they don’t think anybody else is gonna do it.”

Based on current cap projections for 2023/24, a four-year maximum-salary contract for Harden in Philadelphia would be worth approximately $210MM. A five-year deal is essentially impossible due to the NBA’s over-38 rule.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • In a mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey writes that Joel Embiid is “untouchable” for now and opines that Nick Nurse would be the best head coaching candidate for the 76ers’ star center.
  • While opting to replace Doc Rivers after three years was a reasonable decision, Rivers didn’t do a bad job this postseason and there probably wasn’t a coach who would’ve put the Sixers over the top this year, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic says within a mailbag on the team’s approach to the offseason. Hofmann also discusses Embiid’s future in Philadelphia and the club’s salary cap outlook, among other topics.
  • In part two of his mailbag, Hofmann evaluates Tobias Harris‘ trade value and identifies some possible free agent targets for the Sixers in the event that Harden walks. Donte DiVincenzo, Bruce Brown, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Seth Curry are among the players that could be of interest to Philadelphia in free agency, in Hofmann’s view.
  • Each of the Sixers’ rumored head coaching candidates has their own set of baggage, according to Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), who identifies the red flags for Mike Budenholzer and Nurse, among others.