The Lakers season came to an end on Sunday night with a fairly incredible comeback win in overtime over the Nuggets that featured a 31-point triple-double from Austin Reaves. However, the ability to celebrate that one final win was dampened considerably as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Frank Vogel was going to be fired on Monday as the final buzzer sounded.
That of course led to Vogel being asked about it, to which he bluntly retorted “I haven’t been told sh*t.” This being the end of the Vogel tenure in L.A. has been expected for months, but it certainly didn’t feel like the way the news should’ve been handled for a coach who brought another championship to the Lakers. In any case, the coaching search is on and the Lakers are making it known that they’ll be on the hunt for an established big name.
Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers have already been linked to the Lakers’ pursuit of a new coach, and you can add another name to that list in Raptors coach Nick Nurse, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Nurse has been the coach of the Raptors since 2018-19, when he led Toronto to its first championship in his first season, and has done a tremendous job this season leading Toronto to the 5-seed in the East. Charania reports Nurse will be a “top target” for the Lakers, but rather hilariously notes, “it’s unclear whether he will be attainable or whether he would have interest.”
It would be fairly shocking if Nurse engaged on talks with the Lakers in a serious way whenever the Raptors season ends, if for no other reason than he has two years left on his deal in Toronto and L.A. would have to get permission just to speak with him and then, if they somehow got him on board, work out a trade with the Raptors. Considering the Lakers do not have an awful lot of assets to begin with, coupled with the need to likely attach some of those to Russell Westbrook if they’re going to trade him this summer, it seems like an extreme long shot.
On top of that, it’s not hard to argue that the Raptors are a better situation to be in as a coach. While the Lakers boast LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the rest of the roster remains a huge question mark and confidence in the Lakers front office to build a coherent supporting cast is at an all-time low after the disaster of this season. The Raptors have far more depth and much younger All-Star caliber talent compared to an L.A. team with an incredibly murky future whenever LeBron James is gone. Nurse is also a beloved figure with the Raptors which provides a great deal of job security, whereas he’d be coming into a Lakers team with championship or bust expectations who just fired a coach two years removed from a title.
Mostly, this feels like one of two things happening. One, the Lakers are trying to show fans they are targeting the best coaches, which could backfire if they are unable to poach one of those big name coaches from another team and have to settle (again) as they did with Vogel’s hire — which it should be noted, worked out quite well initially. The other option is this is going to be like in college football when a big job opens up and agents use that opening to get a bigger, long term extension done.
In any case, Nurse to the Lakers seems like an extreme long shot but it shows just how wide a net L.A. seems to be trying to cast to reel in a big fish — Michigan coach Juwan Howard, who was with LeBron in Miami, is also noted as a potential candidate.