Montreal (AFP) – Nick Nurse, an assistant coach who helped the Toronto Raptors reach the NBA playoffs in each of the past five seasons, was named Thursday as the Canadian club’s new coach.
Nurse replaced the fired Dwane Casey, who went 320-238 over seven seasons with the Raptors and guided the team to four Atlantic division titles and a record club-record 59 wins last season.
But the Eastern Conference top seeds were swept out of the playoffs by Cleveland in the second round for the second year in a row, the flop sealing Casey’s fate.
Nurse, 50, had been the top assistant to Casey, who earlier this week signed with Detroit.
“Nick is an innovative coach who has a tremendous basketball IQ, and a unique approach to the Xs and Os,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said.
Under Nurse’s detailed planning, the Raptors ranked among the NBA’s top 10 in scoring in three of the past five seasons, setting club record with 111.7 points a game and 968 3-pointers made last season.
“I’m proud to take on the role of head coach of the Toronto Raptors and to continue to work with the exceptional players we have here,” Nurse said.
“I’ve watched this group grow and succeed together. I’m looking forward to more of that this season, and to working towards our shared goal, which is to earn the right to call ourselves NBA Champions.”
Nurse was a player-coach for the British league’s Derby Storm in 1990-91 and later returned to coach four other British teams — the Birmingham Bullets (1995-96), Manchester Giants (1998-2000), London Towers (2000-01) and Brighton Bears (2001-06). He won British league crowns in 1996 and 2000 and was named Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003.
Nurse also gained coached in Italy and Belgium and was an assistant coach for Britain’s team in the 2012 London Olympics.