The Toronto Raptors had one of the most disappointing seasons in the NBA, so much so that they parted ways with head coach Nick Nurse after the end of their 41-41 campaign. The Philadelphia 76ers managed to follow suit, firing Doc Rivers after yet another poor postseason performance.
The 76ers’ initial coaching list appears to focus almost entirely on former head coaches with postseason experience. Names like Mike D’Antoni, Raptors target Monty Williams, and the recently fired Mike Budenholzer are all among the initial list of candidates reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.
The market for Nurse has expanded in the last few weeks, with three contenders in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Phoenix all needing a new coach. Nurse has shown that he can get flawed rosters to the postseason, and he hasn’t had a player on Joel Embiid’s level since Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors need to prepare for the possibility of Nurse going to the 76ers, who are run in an aggressive fashion by a front office trying to taste championship glory with Embiid at the helm. Is Nurse the secret ingredient they need to win?
Will former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse join the 76ers?
The 76ers are in win-now mode, as Embiid will turn 30 next season. Big men his size are already injury-prone, and Embiid has been one of the most fragile stars in the league. This means Nurse will likely get a gaudy war chest that can be used to beef up this roster as much as possible.
Even if the 76ers don’t retain James Harden, Nurse will get another young point guard to mold in Tyrese Maxey with one of the best players in the league in Embiid down in the post. The cap space from not signing Harden could be allocated to a few extra defense-first wings who fit Nurse’s style of play.
However, remaking this 76ers roster to suit Nurse’s style might be one of those “easier said than done” things. If the 76ers want a coach who can get over the hump, Nurse makes sense.
However, Nurse has won just one playoff series in four seasons without Kawhi Leonard. Rivers’ ring didn’t prevent him from getting fired anyway.
Keep in mind that Daryl Morey has hired Nurse once before, as he coached the Rockets’ G League team.
The 76ers’ search for a winner may lead them to Nurse, as he has a combination of experience as a playoff coach makes him more desirable than a first-time hire. While he could end up failing spectacularly with Embiid, he could also stick it to the Raptors by becoming a contender with their rival.