One of the New York Knicks’ division rivals fired their head coach on Friday after the team was ousted in the play-in tournament. Nick Nurse, who led the Raptors to a championship in 2019 and was named NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2020, was let go by Toronto.
A season after finishing as the No. 5 team in the East with a 48-34 record, the Raptors posted a 41-41 record in 2022-23 that gave them the final play-in spot. Thanks in large part to Diar DeRozan, Toronto was beaten by Chicago in the play-in.
Over the past several weeks, there had been rumors floating around about Nurse being the next head coach of the Rockets. Houston fired Stephen Silas at the end of the regular season and now that Nurse is out in Toronto, he’s officially one of the top candidates that could replace Silas.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that former Boston head coach Ime Udoka is a candidate to become Toronto’s next head coach.
"Udoka has a long relationship with Ujiri and is expected to be a prominent part of the Raptors’ coaching search, sources said."
Former Celtics coach Ime Udoka candidate to be named Raptors next head coach
Ime Udoka was suspended by the Celtics for the entirety of the 2022-23 season for “multiple policy violations.”
"But a person with knowledge of the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the details were not made public, told The Associated Press that it involved an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the organization."
Joe Mazzulla was named the interim head coach, but the interim label was removed in February and he finished third in voting for NBA Coach of the Year. It was hard to envision Boston bringing Udoka back, especially with the success that Mazzulla had early on, but now, Udoka could be on his way to Canada to coach the Raptors.
Udoka spent several seasons as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, one season as an assistant in Philadelphia, one season as an assistant in Brooklyn, and one season at the helm in Boston. In his lone season with the Celtics, he led the team to their first NBA Finals appearance since the 2009-10 season.
That last accolade alone should be enough for every organization in search of a new head coach to hire Udoka immediately, but his track record is poor. If the Raptors hire Udoka, they would be putting the entire state of the organization at risk. He’d be a distraction that might be too much for Toronto’s public relations team to bear.
You can argue that Udoka has an impressive resume, but what’s happened off the court shouldn’t be ignored. However, the Raptors (and Rockets) don’t seem to mind.
Luckily, Knicks fans get to focus on watching their team perform in the playoffs rather than deal with head coach drama.