The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have named Nick Nurse as the team’s new head coach. Per team policy terms of the deal were not released. Nurse becomes the ninth head coach in franchise history after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors along with successful coaching tenures in the NBA G League and overseas.
“Nick is an innovative coach who has a tremendous basketball IQ, and a unique approach to the x’s and o’s. We’ve valued his creativity and dedication as he focused on making our offense one of the best in the NBA, and we believe that he will bring those qualities to his new role as head coach,” team president Masai Ujiri said. “This is an exciting and important season for the Raptors, and I believe Nick’s strong leadership and focus on winning are qualities which will help lead us to our ultimate goal, which is a championship.”
Nurse, 50, joined the Raptors in 2013 and helped construct an offensive system that ranked among in the NBA’s top 10 in three of five seasons. During the 2017-18 campaign the Raptors set franchise records for points per game (111.7) and three-pointers made (968).
“I’m proud to take on the role of head coach of the Toronto Raptors, and to continue to work with the exceptional players we have here,” Nurse said. “I’m grateful to Masai, Bobby, Larry Tanenbaum and the MLSE ownership for this opportunity. Toronto and the Raptors organization has been my home for the past five years, and I’ve watched this group grow and succeed together. I’m looking forward to more of that this season, and to working towards our shared goal, which is to earn the right to call ourselves NBA Champions.”
Prior to joining the Raptors, Nurse spent six seasons in the NBA G League as head coach for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2011-13) and the Iowa Energy (2007-11). He compiled a regular-season record of 183-117 (.610), which ranks second all-time in NBA G League history for most victories. Nurse also has the most playoff victories in the league’s history with a 15-6 (.714) record. He is the only coach to lead two different teams to an NBA G League Championship.
During his final season with Rio Grande Valley, Nurse led the Vipers to a 35-15 record and the 2012-13 NBA G League title. Before joining the Vipers, Nurse led Iowa to the 2010-11 G League Championship and was the recipient of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award.
Nurse, a native of Carroll, Iowa, played collegiately at Northern Iowa and stayed on as an assistant coach during the 1989-90 season. He travelled overseas to become player-coach of the Derby Storm in the British Basketball League (BLL) for one season before being named head coach at Grand View College in Iowa.
Following two seasons as an assistant coach at South Dakota, Nurse returned to Great Britain where he coached the Birmingham Bullets (1995-96), Manchester Giants (1998-2000), London Towers (2000-01) and Brighton Bears (2000-06). He won two BLL championships in 1996 and 2000, and was named Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003. Nurse also earned six all-star head coach selections.
Nurse also gained coaching experience in Italy, Belgium, the USBL and served as an assistant coach for the British National Team during the 2012 Olympics in London.