CAMDEN, NJ — It didn't take Nick Nurse too long to find a new gig after being fired by the Toronto Raptors. The Philadelphia 76ers not only hired him but made him their top choice in their search for a new head coach. Nurse's brief rivalry with the Sixers is over as he prepares to install a winning plan centered around Joel Embiid.
Nurse was in the running for the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns' openings, too. He withdrew from Milwaukee's search before they hired one of his former assistants, Adrian Griffin. The Suns made him one of their finalists for the job, along with former Sixers coach Doc Rivers and former Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, among others.
The Suns are going through a transition period with new owner Mat Ishbia but have a pair of superstars in Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. What made Nurse choose the Sixers instead? Above all, familiarity with the situation.
“Well, there's several things you're evaluating,” Nurse said. “First of all, I know what's a good team because I'm in the trenches trying to battle you guys a lot. Pretty good rivalry, right? We saw each other a lot and playoffs and stuff as well. Certainly a big factor.”
Nurse's Raptors played the Sixers in the playoffs twice. They beat them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2019 on their way to a championship and then lost in the first round in 2022. As conference rivals, they played each other plenty during the regular season.
“And then, I think what's most important is ownership. Just just like the other side, do your research, and everything I hear is super positive,” Nurse continued. “And I know Daryl and Daryl's track record of getting players and putting together a roster that can compete for the title, I think speaks for itself. And that's what made it a fairly easy decision in the end.”
Morey and Nurse worked together previously with the Houston Rockets organization. Nurse was the head coach of their G League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and won a championship with the vision he helped Morey craft. Now, the two old friends are teaming up to try to make the Sixers champions.
In their statement announcing Nurse's hire, the Sixers pointed to his championship and creative strategies. The expectations for him will be massive as Philly tries to finally make a deep playoff run.