Report: Lakers targeting Raptors' Nick Nurse after firing Frank Vogel

·2-min read
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in pursuing Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in pursuing Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

After a tumultuous season, the Los Angeles Lakers are expecting to target Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse for their impending vacancy, multiple sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Los Angeles fired Frank Vogel on Monday after reports surfaced Sunday the team would be parting ways with the coach who helped the Lakers win a NBA championship in 2020. That was news to Vogel, who said he "hadn't been told s***" when asked about the rumour following Sunday's win over Denver. The Lakers finished the season, Vogel's third with the team, 11th place in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record.

Nurse has two years remaining on his current deal after signing a multi-year extension in 2020. It’s unclear whether Nurse would have any interest in the Lakers job, as the Raptors are currently preparing for their upcoming first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers and boast a promising young core and one of the most well-respected front offices in the league.

Sportsnet’s Blake Murphy notes that Nurse can only be traded for draft picks, and he would need to sign off on any potential trade. Los Angeles only has its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks available for trade after spending a small fortune to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in July 2019.

You can almost spell out the Lakers’ pitch for Nurse: an opportunity to coach LeBron James for perhaps the final year of his peak and a chance to feature for one of the NBA’s most storied organizations. Not only that, but if Nurse can turn the Lakers back into a championship contender after a disastrous 2021-22 campaign, it would only further his reputation as one of the NBA’s premier coaches.

It won’t be a sudden decision in any event. Charania reported that the Lakers will pursue other coaches during their search, including Michigan’s Juwan Howard, who has posted a 61-32 cumulative record in three NCAA seasons.

Nurse has been at the helm of the Raptors since 2018-19, guiding the franchise to its first NBA championship. In his second season, Nurse earned NBA coach of the year honours after leading the Raptors to a 53-19 record during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. Toronto missed the playoffs last season while being forced to play its home games in Tampa, but bounced back this year by finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference.

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