stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
New Raptors head coach Nurse is an unproven commodity
space
space
By CATHAL KELLY
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – Page B15

TORONTO -- When news leaked Tuesday that the Toronto Raptors intend to make assistant Nick Nurse their new head coach, the first reaction was "shrugging emoji."

This is a paradigm-shifting choice, in the sense that a team in need of a paradigm shift has decided it likes the paradigm the way it is.

Choosing Nurse as head coach is a decision so outside the box that it's all the way back inside it.

A month ago, Raptors president Masai Ujiri laid out his reasons for firing Nurse's boss, Dwane Casey. There weren't any.

This was the closest Ujiri got: "Relationships come to an end.

We'll figure out a way to move on, a new voice, just new everything in terms of that position."

Which was a funny way of saying an old voice and just old everything in terms of that position.

There's nothing wrong with Nurse's qualifications. Under Casey, he oversaw a Raptors offence that ranked fourth in the league last year. He speaks with assurance, looks good in a suit and is a nice guy. People have made careers out of much less.

There's also nothing that pops out at you about him. At 50, he's not precocious. Most of his experience is in the British Basketball League. He's never been an NBA head coach.

He's an unproven commodity, which is a vast improvement over his recent state of being: no sort of commodity at all. Five years ago, Nurse was a smart, middle-aged guy with a clipboard whom no one knew. Then the Raptors got good.

Today, he is still smart, still middle-aged and still largely anonymous, but he has pulled a golden ticket.

So hurrahs all around for the little guy. Perhaps you too may find yourself running a failing franchise on the English seaside one day, then elbowing Drake out of the way as you chase an official down an NBA court the next.

Some people are victims of circumstance. Nurse is a beneficiary of it. Good for him. He may turn out to be the next Red Auerbach.

But that does not solve the Raptors' short-term, self-imposed identity crisis.

This team has saddled itself with a reputation for crumbling when it counts. No one doubts the talent, but it's a showcase sort of talent. They can put it together in January when no one's paying attention. But as soon as the calendar ticks over into April, the Raptors start making passes to the popcorn vendor.

This isn't a coaching failure.

An NBA coach teaches schemes.

He isn't expected to teach guys on eight-figure contracts how to play basic defence, or that you should try hardest in the fourth quarter.

Players in their seventh or eighth professional season are expected to have mastered those skills.

Because they so routinely pooch things, no one expects much from the Raptors any more. Including the Raptors.

They've made a meal of the LeBron James excuse, but the totality of the recent postseason put the lie to that one. The Indiana Pacers came within a few minutes of beating James and His Seven Dwarfs. The Boston Celtics did likewise. Then the Golden State Warriors went scorched earth on them.

The only team that made the Cavaliers seem formidable was Toronto. It was hard not to notice the pattern.

They might have stuck with Casey and tried again, hoping that something would budge - as in James and his geographic relation to this continent's coasts. That was the safe option.

In firing Casey, the Raptors went instead for the change option. This was change for change's sake, since the roster is verging on immutable. The Raptors have no draft picks this year. They have no easy route to trading one or both of their playoff-shy superstars. They've given Serge Ibaka the equivalent of a lottery hit, and the only way they're getting rid of him is if he decides to retire.

Yes, maybe Fred VanVleet will become Gary Payton and OG Anunoby is an incipient Charles Oakley, but historically that's not how the NBA works. You see great players coming a long ways off. The pretty good ones can move their ceilings, but they aren't likely to become postseason difference makers.

Out on the court, the Raptors are stuck with what they have.

And what they have is unlikely to be any better next year.

Still - change. That's what the Raptors decided matters. At this point, it doesn't matter if it's effective change. The important thing is letting people know that things are going to look and sound different.

Lithuanian bench starlet Sarunas Jasikevicius represented that sort of turnover.

So did veteran Italian Ettore Messina.

Even Jerry Stackhouse would have provided a wild card feel to the room (while offering good odds on "NBA coach most likely to punch a player").

People would have had feelings about any of those guys. Not necessarily warm or confident ones, but feelings nonetheless. At the least, people would be talking about it.

But no. If these Raptors deflected cutters the way they avert interest, they'd be the Bill Russell Celtics.

Ujiri has decided on a neither/nor solution - not so different it represents a truly new outlook, but different enough to represent an unnecessary risk.

Today, the safe option is coaching the Detroit Pistons. The Raptors have replaced Dwane Casey with Dwane Casey 2.0 - but returned to default factory settings.

It may work, though no one will bother checking in for a year's time.

For Ujiri's sake, it had better. Because people in pro sports who resist real change when given the opportunity may eventually find themselves becoming it.

Associated Graphic

Promoting Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse, seen in February, 2016, to head coach is a paradigm-shifting choice, writes Cathal Kelly. In the sense that a team in need of a paradigm shift has decided it likes the paradigm the way it is.

CARLOS OSORIO /AP


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Marcus_Gee Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page