The Toronto Raptors are not going away in the Kevin Durant trade sweepstakes, as they will do everything in their power to make sure that they can bring in one of the greatest players ever to pick up a basketball. This extends to their coaching staff and their latest round of hires.
The Raptors took an interest in longtime NBA assistant Rico Hines. On top of the fact that he has long been regarded as one of the best developers of young talent in the league, Hines has established himself as an authority figure on the game with many of the sport’s top players.
Hines confirmed on Instagram that he is leaving the Sacramento Kings and joining Toronto as an assistant coach. While some might view this as a simple case of hiring a qualified assistant to replace one of several departures over the last few years, Hines’ reputation within the league may hint at something else.
Hines’ summer runs have become legendary over the last decade, with names like Durant and Pascal Siakam both frequently participating. This may not seem significant, but the presence of Hines on the bench could help Durant feel a bit more comfortable if he arrives in Toronto.
Did the Toronto Raptors hire Rico Hines for Kevin Durant?
Hines got his start in the NBA with the “We Believe” Warriors in Don Nelson’s second Golden State tenure. After some time at the collegiate level with St. John’s, Hines joined the Kings as an assistant. Hines spent a ton of time with the G League Reno Bighorns, who later became the Stockton Kings.
The Hines hire could also be a sign of long-term commitment to Siakam. A player who has been praised numerous times on Instagram by Hines, Toronto is hiring someone with whom Pascal is clearly comfortable. They could have hired one of many qualified candidates for this spot who didn’t have this connection with a star.
Even if Durant doesn’t come, the Raptors should be thrilled with the Hines hire. With a proven record of success in player development, Hines could help replace names like Jama Mahlalela and Patrick Mutombo that have left for Golden State in Phoenix in the last few seasons.
After Durant forced the Nets to replace Kenny Atkinson with Steve Nash, he showed the rest of the NBA world that he clearly values having friendly faces he respects on the coaching staff. If Hines makes Durant even 2% more interested in joining Toronto, the hire would have done the job.