What happened to the Toronto Raptors?
Winning their first championship in 2019 with Nick Nurse as a rookie head coach and putting together five consecutive 50-win seasons from 2016-2020, the Raptors were one of the league's most dominant teams. Over the last four seasons though, Toronto has won just one playoff series and they have missed the playoffs twice, including this season.
Nurse is no longer the head coach after he and the organization parted ways last month and now this front office led by Masai Ujiri is nearing the end of their detailed coaching search. According to Raptors reporter Doug Smith from the Toronto Star, Toronto is moving into the second round of interviews for their head coaching vacancy with Ujiri said to have narrowed his list down to three final candidates.
While these three finalists have not necessarily been named, several notable assistants and past head coaches have been in contact with the Raptors regarding this position.
NBA Hall of Famer and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash is amongst the most prominent name linked to the Raptors, as he met with the team recently. Nash is a Canadian basketball legend and was successful in his two full seasons with the Nets despite being fired this year, as he led them to a 92-62 (59.7 percent) not counting the seven games he coached them to begin this season. Getting a fresh start in Toronto with a front office backing him may be exactly what Nash needs to prove his skills as a head coach in this league.
Another key name that interviewed for the position, drawing surprise from many, was former NBA guard and current ESPN analyst JJ Redick. Given his knowledge of the game and the respect he holds across the league from other coaches and players, Redick is a very intriguing choice. Redick would be amongst the youngest head coaches in the league if he was given the Raptors job at 38-years-old.
Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez, Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Denver Nuggets assistant David Adelman are also in consideration for this opening, as is Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo. Serving as an assistant coach with the Raptors from 2018-21, Scariolo may very well have a lot of fans within the organization pushing for him to become the next head coach.
It is worth noting as well that Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin is set to become the next head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and former Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is much more likely to take the year off rather than jump into another head coaching gig right away.
Whoever the Raptors decide to bring in as their next head coach, they will be tasked with a heavy challenge. Missing the playoffs this year, it is clear that there is work to be done in Toronto and their roster could wind up looking very different than it is now over the course of the next couple of months.
All-Star guard Fred VanVleet and sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr. are both expected to opt out of their player options to become free agents and trade rumors continue to circulate around All-Star forward Pascal Siakam and All-Defensive wing OG Anunoby. The idea of trading their 12th overall pick is also in play with the 2023 NBA Draft just over three weeks away.
The Raptors are at a crossroads right now, as they may keep things going and try to contend for another title with the talent they have, but they could also look to reset and reload their roster with young, versatile talents around former Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
This NBA offseason should prove to be quite eventful and the Raptors will be one of the focal points of attention across the league.