The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to get into the thick of their coaching search. Some of the early candidates have included Mark Jackson and former assistant Darvin Ham. The team is expected to take its time with the search so many more names will likely be added to the mix.
Perhaps the most popular name linked to the Lakers opening has been Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. An NBA executive told Heavy.com previously that they’d expect the team to show interest in Nurse due to his ties to Klutch Sports, which is the same agency that represents Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The problem facing Los Angeles is that Nurse is under contract with the Raptors. The Lakers would need permission to even interview him and it doesn’t sound like Toronto would grant it.
During vice chairman and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri’s end-of-season availability, he made it clear that the Lakers are dreaming if they think that Nurse is going to sign with them.
“No team has contacted me,” Ujiri said of Nurse. “And I see all the stuff that you guys see. I dream like they dream. I want [Lionel] Messi. I want [Cristiano] Renaldo. I want Kobe Bryant. So they can keep dreaming. I dream too. … I’m not going into that. How I dreams? Just like the Lakers.”
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Do These Comments End the Nurse Speculation?
Based on Ujiri’s comments, the Raptors won’t easily let Nurse walk. Obviously, if he makes it clear that he wants out, Toronto won’t have much of a choice but to allow him to seek other opportunities. It’s hard to imagine that he’d be so unhappy with the Raptors that he’d be willing to start drama.
Barring a sudden change, it doesn’t appear Nurse will be going anywhere. He’s had success with the Raptors and is only three years removed from winning a championship. Ujiri is widely considered one of the best executives in the sport, which should be an important factor for the coach. Why join the Lakers circus when he has one of the most stable situations in the NBA?
Nurse Disregards Rumors
From the Lakers’ standpoint, Nurse would be the perfect coach to take over. He’s one of the best young coaches in the NBA and his Klutch Sports ties would have to be exciting for LeBron. Considering there’s been some tension this season with the superstar and the Lakers, landing a Klutch coach would be great for both sides. Nurse was asked about the rumors linking him to other jobs and he disregarded them.
“I don’t know where that stuff comes from, and I’m focused on coaching this team,” Nurse said.
That’s not a definitive rebuttal of the rumors so the door could still be open for him to leave. It’s still highly unlikely but it’s always possible that Nurse, who is from Iowa, is tired of coaching in a foreign county and wants to return to the United States.