With just under 100 days remaining until the tip off of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Canada Basketball’s head coaching search has reportedly wrapped up with a surprising result. Initially reported by Peter Yannopoulos of RDS, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has agreed to lead the senior men’s national team this summer as the FIBA World Cup is set to tip off on August 31st in China.
The news comes one day after the Raptors advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, and has nothing but strong implications for Canada Basketball. With the success Nurse has had in his first year as an NBA head coach, the move will certainly not hurt the country’s chances of landing commitments from Canada’s strong pool of NBA players to participate this offseason. In addition, with his popularity among the Toronto fan base as well, having Nurse as the face of the team this summer will surely add another exciting element to the national team among Raptors fans.
Nick Nurse’s reported capacity with Canada Basketball also comes at a pivotal moment in the program’s history, as the country looks to earn a spot in next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo for the first time since 2000 in Sydney, Australia, with its strongest pool of NBA talent the country has ever had. Canada has only won one medal in its nine Olympic appearances, and the program’s trajectory in recent years has pointed to 2020 as an integral Olympic year.
The report was later confirmed by Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, who added that Canada Basketball executives Glen Grunwald and Rowan Barrett have declined to comment but that MLSE has been supportive of the idea as a means to help continue growing basketball in the country. Grange also added that a possible “increased integration between Drake’s OVO brand…” and Canada Basketball is another development to keep an eye on. Any official announcement will likely come after the NBA Finals conclude.
Canada Basketball has been conducting a search for a new head coach since March with early candidates such as Ettore Messina, David Blatt, and Canada’s most recent head coach Jay Triano who eventually withdrew their names from consideration. Recent front-runners for the position included Skyliners Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert and Ryerson head coach Roy Rana.