This morning, Toronto Raptors fans had a weight lifted off their shoulders knowing that Nick Nurse will remain North of the border for the next few years, at minimum.
The Athletic’s Blake Murphy first broke the news via Twitter, stating that the Raptors and Nick Nurse have agreed to a multi-year extension, with the exact terms of the contract yet to be released.
Since taking over for Dwane Casey in 2018, Nurse has skyrocketed up the ranks of head coaches in the NBA, and his résumé speaks for itself. He currently owns the highest winning percentage of any coach in NBA history at 72.1%, he is one of only nine head coaches to win a championship in their rookie season, he is the only man to win championships as a head coach in both the G-League and the NBA, he has already coached the best in the world at the 2020 All-Star Game, and now he’s a one-time Coach of The Year (with more of them to come, eventually).
Nurse is highly regarded as one of the best coaches in the league at making in-game adjustments – which is a far cry from what Raptors fans were used to watching while their team was run by Casey. From breaking out his creative box-and-one defensive scheme to slow Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals, to not being afraid of switching from a zone defense to a man defense on the click of a button, Nurse has demonstrated his fearlessness of being different, and it’s doing him wonders. To date, Nurse has won five playoff series and only lost once, and carries an overall playoff record of 23-12 in just two seasons.
When asked for comment on the extension, Masai Ujiri reiterated that “Nurse has proved he can coach on the court and lead in life, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing great things in the future.”
Ujiri’s choice of words would spark some optimism in the minds of Raptors fans hoping that he too, signs an extension this offseason, along with his counterpart, Bobby Webster.
Webster, the Raptors General Manager, and Ujiri, Toronto’s President of Basketball Operations, are both eligible for their own contract extensions this summer. Extending both of them for the long term should be a priority for the Raptors’ ownership group. Ujiri and Webster have both been instrumental in crafting the Raptors’ winning culture, and constructing perennially contending rosters. Beyond their actual work, Ujiri has a close relationship with the NBA’s reigning back-to-back MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who hits free agency next summer, and is heavily rumoured to be considering Toronto as a free agent destination.
Until the news regarding the front office superstars’ extensions however, fans can find peace in the fact that the best coach in the league will be a pivotal part of their franchise for the better part of the next decade.