The Raptors fired Dwane Casey after a largely successful tenure and promoted his assistant, Nick Nurse, to head coach. Casey landed on his feet, becoming the Pistons’ head coach and drawing a hefty salary.
So, all good?
Multiple NBA sources will tell you the one-time mentor and his long-time assistant have not been on affable terms in the midst of Toronto’s coaching-staff shakeup.
“No love lost between ’em,” said one basketball lifer who would know, speaking of Casey and Nurse.
One league source suggested that on a bench occupied by the defence-first Casey and defensive co-ordinator Rex Kalamian, Nurse’s offence-forward suggestions were never fully heard nor understood.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Toronto Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian has agreed to join Doc Rivers' coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 14, 2018
Did Nurse do anything to undermine Casey? If so, I understand the grudge. If not, Casey shouldn’t blame Nurse for Masai Ujiri wanting to go another direction. Easier said than done, I understand, though.
I’m also interested in the dynamics in Toronto. Though offense got most attention, purely in terms of points scored and allowed per possession, the Raptors improved more defensively than offensively from last season to this season. Now, Casey and Kalamian – who oversaw that defense – are gone. Perhaps, Nurse will take the offense even further now that he’s in charge. But don’t underestimate how risky this shakeup is.