Nick Nurse has agreed to become the next head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Nurse, the 2020 Coach of the Year winner, spent the previous five seasons as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He led the Raptors to their first championship in 2019, and now, Philadelphia hopes he'll take them back to the Finals for the first time since 2001.
Nurse goes back quite a ways with 76ers general manager Daryl Morey. He coached the Rio Grande Valley Vipers from 2011-13, and the Vipers are the G League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, Morey's old team. Nurse led them to a championship in 2013, and that earned him an assistant coaching job in Toronto. That was his first coaching job on an NBA bench, but he has since grown into one of the best coaches in the NBA.
In Philadelphia, Nurse will take over a 76ers team that has a number of playoff disappointments on its recent resume. Nurse was a part of one of them in 2019 when his Raptors knocked the Sixers out in the second round on Kawhi Leonard's Game 7 buzzer-beater. Under Rivers, the 76ers have been knocked out in the second round three years in a row, including as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2021 and with a 3-2 lead against Boston this season. After three straight years without a trip to the conference finals, Philadelphia moved on from Rivers earlier this month.
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Now Nurse will have his work cut out for him. Philadelphia still has reigning MVP Joel Embiid, but sidekick James Harden is set for free agency and the rumor mill suggests he could be headed back to Houston. The 76ers would have very limited avenues to replace him, so a coaching upgrade will have to help them overcome that possible loss.
But Nurse is among the best coaches in the NBA, and is widely regarded as a defensive genius that makes frequent, aggressive in-game adjustments. The 76ers may lose talent this offseason, but Nurse will help make the most of whoever they still have next season.