The Toronto Raptors fired head coach Nick Nurse four years removed from winning the NBA title, and their search to fill the vacancy is underway. One person that the team has looked into as a potential replacement for Nurse is former NBA sharpshooter and current broadcaster JJ Redick, Sportsnet Canada first reported. ESPN added that the Raptors have interviewed Redick.
Redick retired from the NBA in 2021, and he has expressed a desire to get into coaching.
Toronto's process is expected to be broad in scope, per ESPN, with several top assistants among the pool of candidates in addition to Redick. According to the report, the Raptors have already received permission to interview the usual suspects like Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee's Charles Lee, along with the Suns' Kevin Young, the Spurs' Mitch Johnson, the Kings' Jordi Fernandez, the Grizzlies' Darko Rajakovic and Chris Quinn of the Miami Heat.
Toronto will also reportedly speak with Las Vegas Aces head coach and former Spurs assistant Becky Hammon about the position. She was on the San Antonio staff for eight seasons before leading the Aces to the 2022 WNBA title. Aces forward and two-time WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson didn't seem to be pleased about the news.
In addition to the outside candidates, the Raptors will reportedly consider assistant Adrian Griffin for the head coaching vacancy.
Before being fired last week, Nurse coached the Raptors for five seasons, winning the 2019 title with Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. The next season, Nurse was named the 2020 NBA Coach of the Year and compiled a 227-163 record over his five seasons as head coach. He is expected to be a serious candidate to fill any potential coaching opening.
The Raptors went 41-41 during the 2022-23 season and were eliminated from the Play-In Tournament by the Chicago Bulls. Despite their mediocre record, the Raptors offer an intriguing roster and established talent for whoever takes over, with players such as Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby under contract. VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. can become free agents this summer should they choose to decline their player options.
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"The decision to make a change like this is never arrived at easily or taken lightly, especially when it comes to a person who has been an integral part of this franchise's most historic accomplishments, and who has been a steady leader through some of our team's most challenging times. As we reflect on Nick's many successes, we thank him and his family, and wish them the best in the future," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in the team statement.
"This is an opportunity for us to reset, to refocus, to put into place the personnel and the players who will help us reach our goal of winning our next championship."