NBA rumors: Odds view Ime Udoka as most likely Nick Nurse replacement

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors may be in the coaching market for the first time in a half-decade this offseason, as all of the buzz surrounding head coach Nick Nurse makes it sound like the former NBA champion is ready to officially leave town. If Nurse leaves for a team like the Houston Rockets, Ime Udoka has been floated as a replacement.

Udoka is fresh off losing his job with the Boston Celtics due to an improper workplace relationship. As such, he is sitting the 2022-23 season out before trying to get back into the coaching ranks.

The Raptors, who have been very good with regard to not leaking sensitive details, have been linked so strongly to Udoka in recent weeks that it would be foolish to ignore it.

The latest odds for who will be the Raptors’ coach in 2023-24 from Bovada have Nurse and Udoka essentially neck-and-neck with +155 for the incumbent and +175 for the potential replacement.

Top Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin is firmly in third place at +550. Sam Cassell and Kenny Atkinson came in at +850, while Charles Lee, Frank Vogel, and Raptors assistant Earl Watson were +950.

NBA rumors: Will Ime Udoka replace Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors?

Udoka, who interviewed for Toronto’s 2018 vacancy before Nurse replaced Dwane Casey, was almost hired by the Brooklyn Nets to replace Steve Nash, but the job went to Jacque Vaughn. When the Kyrie Irving-led Nets thought Udoka would be too much of a PR headache for them, that should tell Toronto something.

Even though Boston is the No. 2 seed in the East without Udoka at the helm, the fact he guided the squad to an NBA Finals appearance in his first full season at the controls is undoubtedly an impressive achievement. Toronto might be willing to overlook all of his baggage if they think he’s the best Nurse replacement.

Nurse is still the betting favorite to coach the Raptors, and the idea of him leaving will depend almost entirely on how attractive a job like Houston will be to him. He won’t be competing for a championship anytime soon, but he will get to make his own unique stamp on the culture and potentially have more power.

Udoka has shown that he can win games and make noise in the postseason in this league, but he will bring with him a tornado of controversy with him. If Nick Nurse leaves, the Raptors may just tie down everything they have and hope that Udoka doesn’t take the roof off.

Next. 7 players the Raptors gave up on too soon. dark