Compiling a 41-41 record doesn’t signify an atrocity of a season, but it was bad enough for the Toronto Raptors to part ways with coach Nick Nurse. They just didn’t feel that he was the right coach to get the most out of Scottie Barnes and a very young Raptors team.
Toronto welcomed Nurse back in just their second home contest of the year, losing to his Philadelphia 76ers in a spirited effort that saw Toronto stay strong without OG Anunoby. Nurse received a tribute video from the Raptors and hearty applause from fans in the stands.
Not everyone was thrilled to see Nurse back, however. Despite the fact Barnes played his first two seasons under Nurse, it didn’t seem like the future Raptors star was in any hurry to catch up with him.
“I didn’t really look over there that much,” Barnes said. “I was focused on the game. But you know… I don’t know. Good to see him, I guess. … I barely saw him, to be honest.” For a coach that drafted and developed him, Nurse got quite an icy reception from his former pupil.
Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes wasn’t thrilled to see Nick Nurse.
Barnes won Rookie of the Year in a season that shattered everyone’s expectations of what he could be in the NBA, but he flatlined in his second season. Despite his improvements as a playmaker in his second season, his scoring was identical, and his efficiency took a dip.
Barnes has started hot under Darko Rajakovic, putting up 63 points in his first three games. In those games, Barnes already has a five-block showing against Minnesota, two straight nights shooting over 63% from the field and one of a handful of triple-doubles across the league on the season.
While Nurse was the perfect coach for a veteran Raptors team that needed an edge to get to the NBA Finals, he can be a bit abrasive at times. As a young player who saw his role constantly shift from game to game, that had to be difficult for Barnes to adjust to as a second-year pro.
It appears as though things have worked out well for both sides. Rajakovic has brought a more fluid offense to Barnes and the rest of the Raptors, and Nurse will get to fight for another ring with Joel Embiid. Still, the fact Barnes was so lacking in emotion when discussing Nurse is noteworthy.