The Toronto Raptors may have missed out on hiring Ime Udoka after the firing of Nick Nurse, but it looks like Masai Ujiri is finally going to jump-start the process of finding a replacement who can help get this team back into the championship picture.
Ujiri is looking for someone that is disciplined, works hard, and can instill confidence that turns into tangible internal development while relating to his players. Based on the initial list of interviewees that Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Toronto is looking at, he has found multiple candidates worthy of such a prized job.
Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon, and Bucks assistant Charles Lee are three of the most noteworthy names linked to the Raptors. The list is rounded out by Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, San Antonio’s Mitch Johnson, Phoenix’s Kevin Young, Memphis’ Darko Rajakovic, and Miami’s Chris Quinn.
Toronto Raptors coach targets include Becky Hammon, Kenny Atkinson
Atkinson is looking for a second chance after the Nets dumped him, while Lee and Young spent last season as the top assistant on the bench for two of the best teams in the league in Milwaukee and Phoenix, respectively.
Quinn is an assistant with Miami, and was briefly considered a candidate for the vacant Detroit Pistons job. Johnson has been Gregg Popovich’s right-hand man for years.
Fernandez is a long-time Nuggets assistant who spent this season as the associate head coach and No. 2 behind Mike Brown in Sacramento. Rajakovic spent the last three seasons in Memphis following stints as an assistant coach in Oklahoma City and Phoenix.
Hammon might be the most noteworthy name on here, as the former Spurs assistant and current Aces head coach would be the first female head coach in NBA and major North American sports history. Kim Ng has already become the first female GM with the Miami Marlins. Will Hammon follow in her footsteps?
The Raptors are casting a very wide net, which is imperative for a decision of this magnitude. Some of the names on there are relative unknowns, while some have some pedigree within the league. It’ll be on Ujiri to identify which coach best fits this team’s vision.