After a very disappointing season, the Toronto Raptors decided to let go of Nick Nurse. During his time with the Raptors, Nurse coached the team to an NBA Finals victory and won the Coach of the Year award once. He had a record of 227-163 in his five seasons with the team.
Last season, the Raptors would finish the year with a record of 41-41 and would be eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the play-in tournament. Nurse should not struggle to find another job as a head coach, however, the Raptors must now find a way to replace one of the best basketball minds in the league.
It may be in the best interest of the Raptors to begin a rebuilding phase and construct their team around former rookie of the year Scottie Barnes. This could result in blowing up the roster for young players and draft picks. A coach that has a track record of getting the most out of his players and developing young talent is Kenny Atkinson.
Atkinson coached the Brooklyn Nets to a strong playoff run with a core of D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert. He has always been a coach that can adjust his schemes to fit the strengths of his roster, and that is exactly what the Raptors need. Along with this, he is currently the assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors and has gotten the chance to learn from their head coach Steve Kerr who has been one of the most successful coaches in history.
Another assistant coach that the Raptors could provide with a head coaching role is Mitch Johnson. Johnson is the current assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. This has given him the opportunity to learn from Greg Popovitch. Coach Pop is arguably the greatest coach of all time and his coaching tree has had a history of success.
While the Spurs have been going through a rebuilding phase during Johnson’s entire stint with the team, he likely is more than ready to take over as a head coach.
The final option that the Raptors should look into is keeping the hiring process in-house and signing their current head coach Adrian Griffin. Griffin has served as an assistant coach for the past fourteen seasons, spending some time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Toronto Raptors.
He has served on the Raptors coaching staff for the past five seasons and is more than deserving of a shot at the head coaching job. He already has close relationships with the current roster, and even if the front office blows the team up, it will take the pressure off of his shoulders to win immediately in his first season as a head coach.
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