The Toronto Raptors appear to be headed for a split with longtime head coach Nick Nurse after he followed a 48-win campaign that earned him the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 41-win season that ended in postseason failure and the No. 13 pick in the NBA Draft. Nurse might leave, which could be good for Adrian Griffin.
Amid rumors that Nurse and the Raptors are headed for a split that sends Nurse to the Houston Rockets, which could prompt Griffin to slide right into the proverbial captain’s chair, Toronto might have a natural replacement for Nurse on the roster already.
Unfortunately, Griffin’s exceptional leadership skills have drawn the watchful eye of another team looking to pilfer away some of the Raptors’ most inventive minds. The Raptors won’t be the only ones with interest in turning Griffin into a head coach this offseason.
Griffin will be interviewed by the Rockets (for whom he played in 2003) and Detroit Pistons for their head coaching vacancies, showing that he remains a very desirable candidate across the league. There is a scenario where Nurse bolts for Houston, Griffin ends up in Detroit, and the Raptors are left at the alter.
Will Nick Nurse and Adrian Griffin leave the Toronto Raptors?
Griffin has been an assistant since his retirement as a player in 2008, so he had more than earned a shot at the sticks for an NBA franchise. Griffin was considered briefly by the Lakers and Jazz last offseason before officially hiring Darvin Ham and Will Hardy to those positions.
Toronto has often had success with promoting top internal candidates to premium coaching positions, with Nurse serving as the archetype of this philosophy after making his move to the No. 1 spot following Dwane Casey’s firing. Earl Watson is respected by players around the league, but he was a disaster coaching the Suns.
While Masai Ujiri has reportedly promised some major changes coming to the Raptors, they would be unwise to sweep the whole coaching staff out of town, throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water in such a scenario. Griffin is a valued asset, and he will have a job in two seconds if he leaves Toronto.
With Chris Finch having taken the Timberwolves to the playoffs twice in consecutive seasons, the league may once again be interested in hiring Nurse assistants after the Nate Bjorkgren disaster with the Pacers. Griffin is the best assistant on Toronto’s staff, and his leaving, along with Nurse, would leave a huge hole in this team’s foundation.