Raptors sign Nick Nurse to multi-year extension

William Lou
·NBA reporter
·3 mins read

The Toronto Raptors signed head coach Nick Nurse to a multi-year extension, the team announced on Tuesday.

In two seasons since being promoted from assistant to head coach, Nurse won a championship and earned Coach of the Year honours for guiding the Raptors to the second-best record in the league. His record through two seasons is 111-43, which also includes an impressive 23-12 mark in the playoffs. Those 23 wins already put him ahead of all other Raptors coaches for the most playoff wins in franchise history.

“Our confidence in Nick just continues to grow, and part of that comes from what we’ve experienced together,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “The past two seasons have been unlike any other in our team’s history – first, winning our championship, and then navigating a global pandemic and committing long-term to the fight against racism and for social justice. Nick has proved that he can coach on the court and lead in life, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing great things in the future.”

Nurse first joined the Raptors as an assistant in 2013 after a standout career in the G-League, where he won two titles. Before that, Nurse famously coached all over the world, with stops in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy and across several collegiate and semi-professional levels in the United States. Nurse earned his first NBA head coaching job in 2018 after the Raptors dismissed former Coach of the Year winner Dwane Casey following a second-consecutive sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In his two seasons with the Raptors, Nurse has quickly earned a reputation for his creativity, particularly on the defensive end. Nurse famously deployed a box-and-one against Stephen Curry in last year’s Finals, which was one of several key adjustments Nurse made to win Toronto’s first championship. Nurse’s success with zone defences and other unconventional schemes helped fuel the Raptors’ second-ranked defence this season, one that also held up in the playoffs. Several teams across the NBA have adopted Nurse’s tactics on defence, especially this year in particular.

Nurse has also shown a remarkable ability to adapt in difficult circumstances. After losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency, Nurse shifted his team’s approach to playing a more team-oriented style of offence. And although the Raptors took further hits, losing seven of their top-eight rotation players to injuries lasting at least a month, Nurse was still able to win games by coaxing production from his deep bench players. His effort in leading this version of the Raptors to 53 wins was the main reason why he won 90 out of 100 first-place votes in Coach of the Year voting.

“My family and I will always be appreciative of Larry Tanenbaum and MLSE ownership for this opportunity. I’m grateful to Masai, Bobby, and the players for their trust and their hard work,” Nurse said. “Toronto has been my home for the past seven years, and I look forward to it being home for many more. I’ve watched this franchise grow and reach the pinnacle, and I look forward to the challenge of helping us win another championship.”

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