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NBA Raptors fire Nurse as coach after missing playoffs

Head Coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

Nick Nurse, who masterminded Toronto’s run to the 2019 NBA title, was fired as head coach of the Raptors on Friday after the club missed the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri announced the move, saying the team needed a “reset” after a 41-41 campaign and a loss to Chicago in a play-in game.

“The decision to make a change like this is never arrived at easily or taken lightly, especially when it comes to a person who has been an integral part of this franchise’s most historic accomplishments, and who has been a steady leader through some of our team’s most challenging times,” Ujiri said.

“This is an opportunity for us to reset, to refocus, to put into place the personnel and the players who will help us reach our goal of winning our next championship.”

Nurse, a 55-year-old American, spent 11 seasons coaching in Europe, guiding Birmingham and Manchester to British league crowns. He joined the Raptors in 2013 as an assistant coach under Dwane Casey and replaced Casey in the top job after the Raptors were swept in the second round of the 2018 playoffs.

Nurse directed the Raptors to the 2019 NBA crown, defeating the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in the finals. In 2020, Nurse was named the NBA Coach of the Year.

But Toronto missed the playoffs in 2021, lost to Philadelphia in the first round last year and squandered a 19-point lead in losing to Chicago in a play-in home game earlier this month.

In five seasons guiding the Raptors, Nurse went 227-163.

Ime Udoka, who coached the Boston Celtics to last year’s NBA Finals, was reported to be among the contenders for the Raptors coaching job.

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