From the second Dwane Casey was fired after seven years as Raptors coach, Nick Nurse was one of many favourites to be named Casey’s successor. On Thursday, when Nurse was lastly launched as such, 35 days had handed.
“A protracted month,” Nurse mentioned.
To assist bide the time throughout Raptors president Masai Ujiri’s dance-a-thon with due diligence, Toronto’s head coach in ready (and ready) took a visit to England together with his son, Noah, an tour that included a Rolling Stones live performance at aptly named Previous Trafford. Whereas Ujiri hemmed and hawed — finally narrowing the sector to a two-man race between Nurse and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina that got here “right down to the wire,” to make use of Ujiri’s phrase — Nurse communed with geriatric rock.
“It takes a second to get used to (how the Rolling Stones) look a little bit totally different, significantly,” the 50-year-old Nurse mentioned of the famed band led by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, each aged 74. “After which just a few songs in you don’t even discover (how previous they’re) any extra and Mick goes bonkers.”
If we discovered something about how Nurse plans to work the stage he’ll be afforded because the ninth coach in Raptors historical past, possibly it’s that his teaching philosophy hardly strains up together with his standing as a fan of a musical group that did its greatest work a half-century in the past. Seemingly bored with buzzing alongside to the identical previous metaphorical music, Nurse mentioned it’ll be his precedence to be an NBA innovator moderately than an imitator.
“We’ve gotta be making an attempt to consider what’s coming subsequent earlier than it comes subsequent,” Nurse mentioned. “I believe the sport normally is altering so quick proper earlier than our eyes. I believe it’s modified a lot within the final 5 years, it’s modified a lot within the final three years …”
Given Ujiri’s repute for a conservative aversion to the brand new, possibly Nurse wasn’t the plain candidate. But when the workforce president all the time harboured frustration with Casey’s perceived weak spot in making in-game changes, Ujiri took pains to greater than as soon as invoice Nurse as an in a position “tactician” who “actually thinks the sport.”
“Attempting new stuff and being modern is simply who Nick is,” Ujiri mentioned. “He thinks the sport in a different way. Within the NBA, we’re a copycat league. That’s what we’re. We copy the whole lot that everyone else is doing. I’d love to not be that and go other ways … Typically they may fail, however what’s the subsequent smartest thing. He’s that type of thinker, to be sincere.”
Not that this was a day for specifics, however Nurse did provide just a few early ideas about subsequent season’s potential factors of emphasis. Count on to see Kyle Lowry, whom Nurse mentioned he admires as a peerless competitor, with the ball in his palms on the common (this after a season during which Lowry was ceaselessly used off the ball to restrict his workload and emphasize his three-point capturing).
“I’m going to place the ball in his abdomen a little bit bit extra and have him run the offence,” Nurse mentioned of the 32-year-old level guard.
Count on to see playoff benchwarmer Norm Powell given a possibility to be a helpful participant — music to the ears of Ujiri, little question, provided that Powell’s four-year deal value $42 million (all figures U.S.) kicks in subsequent season.
“100 per cent,” Nurse mentioned, talking of the probabilities Powell’s relevance could be reclaimed. “Actually I’d like him to get a little bit dirtier, so far as getting on the ground and taking expenses, simply being a little bit bit extra of an element defensively as a result of he’s robust and athletic and also you’ve acquired to make use of that energy and athleticism on the defensive finish.”
Count on to see a new-fangled defence Nurse believes might be extra adaptable come playoff time.
“Zone concepts, however with man-to-man rules,” Nurse mentioned, including that such a scheme would possibly higher go well with the boundaries of, say, Jonas Valanciunas.
And count on Ujiri to not less than strongly contemplate methods to renovate a roster clearly in want of a expertise injection.
“Do we predict it’s an ideal roster? No. We’ve work to do and we consider that,” Ujiri mentioned. “However as everyone knows, issues simply don’t occur in a single day within the NBA. It’s not the simplest factor to do. It takes a associate to do this stuff if you wish to make trades. We’re open, we’re going to be open going into the draft (subsequent Thursday, during which the Raptors are and not using a choose). We’ll see.”
How a lot enchancment can a workforce count on to see by changing essentially the most profitable coach in franchise historical past with a rookie hauling round a bunch of shiny concepts he thinks would possibly work? Laborious to say. However Nurse spoke as if he was going to show the common season right into a check lab to implement methods he hopes will turn out to be useful when it issues.
To that finish Nurse was requested how he would have approached the Cleveland sequence in a different way than his previous boss, because it was the sweep to the Cavaliers that finally value Casey the job. Ujiri, sitting subsequent to Nurse, turned to take heed to the reply with what appeared like appreciable curiosity. What adopted had been roughly 254 phrases of restricted substance. Which isn’t essentially one thing followers ought to be involved about. It’s not profitable the press convention that’s essential. It’s profitable extra playoff video games than his predecessor.
“I discovered rather a lot from (Casey). You may’t take away the 5 years of what you shared collectively,” Nurse mentioned. “(However) the success that we wanna have is within the playoffs.”
Little doubt. Nonetheless, Casey gained 18 playoff video games up to now three seasons mixed. Whether or not Nurse’s workforce performs a brand new method or an previous method — to butcher a well-recognized Stones title, that’s no small beast of a burden.