Coaching carousel updates: Nurse, Atkinson, Griffin final three for Bucks
The NBA coaching carousel continues to spin, seemingly a little bit faster each day, and we may be getting near some decisions the biggest name openings on the board.
Here’s an update on where things stand:
• The final three candidates for the Milwaukee Bucks job are former Raptors coach Nick Nurse, former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, and Raptors top assistant under Nurse Adrian Griffin, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Nurse looms prominently in Phoenix and Philadelphia searches too, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 22, 2023
• Nurse was always quick to mention Griffin as a guy who deserved to be a head coach, now they are competing for the same job.
• If Nurse takes the job in Milwaukee, does that make Monte Williams a frontrunner in Philadelphia? Williams has led a team to the Finals but has also watched his team underachieve the past two seasons, is that what Daryl Morey is looking for? (Added to this, who does Joel Embiid want? Keeping him happy remains a top priority.
• After a dismal showing in Game 3 against the Heat, calls out of New England from frustrated Celtics fans for the head of rookie coach Joe Mazzulla have grown louder. The Celtics gave Mazzulla a multi-year extension during the season, but this kind of ugly series loss will change the dynamic around any coach.
That said, Brad Stevens and the Celtics organization tend to be patient. League sources suggested to NBC Sports the more likely path is for Mazzulla to stay on but with a new staff of assistant coaches around him, including at least one with NBA head coaching experience. Those same sources add it is too early to say anything definitive.
• The Toronto Raptors will talk to Canadian basketball hero Steve Nash about their open head coaching position, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Toronto Raptors met with Steve Nash to discuss their head coaching job, sources tell me and @joevardon. Nash, a Canadian basketball legend, had a .584 record (94-67) in two-plus seasons coaching the Nets. Toronto has had a wide-ranging coaching search.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 22, 2023
Nash was brought in to coach the superstar Nets but that didn’t fit as well as management hoped (a lot of things in Brooklyn didn’t fit as well as management expected.
• Masai Ujiri is conducting a wide-open search in Toronto, Nash will be the 13th person interviewed in the first round of the process.
• Talk to sources around the league and they seem to have a sense of what most teams are looking for in their next coach, except in Phoenix. With new team owner Mat Ishbia running the show, people around the league have less of a feel of which direction this will go and what he seeks. So far, he and GM James Jones have conducted a fairly wide-ranging search to replace Williams.