The Toronto Raptors have conducted a very thorough search as they try to find the best replacement for the recently deposed Nick Nurse as their next head coach. Masai Ujiri is well aware of how bad things can get if he makes a poor decision in this process.
The most popular choice for a replacement seems to be former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who was fired despite taking the team to the NBA Finals for his leading role in an improper workplace relationship. The overwhelming bettering favorite, Udoka might be able to slide right in and start winning.
However, if we know anything about Ujiri, it’s that he loves to lean on his best internal options or those who are familiar with what he’s trying to accomplish. There have been rumblings that two former Raptors assistant coaches could make some triumphant returns.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Phoenix Suns assistant Patrick Mutombo and Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse might get some consideration for the head coaching vacancy alongside Udoka. Both of them are former Raptors assistants that Ujiri knows well.
Will the Toronto Raptors hire Jerry Stackhouse or Patrick Mutombo?
Mutombo was on the bench with both Nurse and Dwane Casey between 2016 and 2020. After leaving the pros to start a very successful stint as the head coach of Raptors 905 in the G League, Monty Williams brought him to Phoenix as an assistant. The results so far have been excellent.
Stackhouse took the same route as Mutombo, but left to become the head coach of the Commodores. His sub-.500 record is not an accurate depiction of his coaching skill, as Vandy doesn’t have the resources needed to compete with elite SEC schools all the time. He inherited a mess and had his two strongest seasons back-to-back.
While Udoka is the odds-on favorite, hiring him would not only represent a significant philosophy change by hiring someone with no connection to the current regime but also bring a major PR nightmare that this team might not be equipped to deal with properly. These two options are much safer.
Mutombo and Stackhouse have some familiarity with the current players and have shown (to varying degrees) that they can be leaders of men in their new gigs while keeping the vibes intact. Toronto needs to give both of them a fair shot at becoming the club’s next head coach.