Nick Nurse On Lakers Rumors: 'I'm Focused on Coaching' Raptors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 3, 2022

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors head coach reacts to a call in the second half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on April 23, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Cole Burston/Getty Images

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse isn't taking the bait when it comes to rumors of him potentially leaving to become head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to TSN's Josh Lewenberg, Nurse said the following Monday when asked about the rumors: "I don't know where that stuff comes from, and I'm focused on coaching this team."

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported last month that Nurse would be a "top target" for L.A. after the firing of Frank Vogel.

The Lakers have been linked to several different coaches since firing Vogel, but one can only assume that Nurse would be at or near the top of the list if there is any possibility of them prying him away from Toronto.

Nurse has been one of the NBA's top head coaches since 2018, which is when he was elevated from assistant to head coach of the Raptors.

In four seasons at the helm in Toronto, Nurse is 186-122 with three playoff appearances, including leading the Raptors to their first and only NBA championship in 2019.

His most impressive work arguably came one year later when he led the Raptors to a 53-19 record despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Toronto was knocked out in the second round of the playoffs, but Nurse was named NBA Coach of the Year.

Toronto dropped to 27-45 last season amid difficult circumstances that saw them play home games in Tampa, Florida, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Nurse righted the ship in 2021-22 with Toronto going 48-34 and returning to the postseason.

With the Raptors, Nurse has a talented group led by Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, so he may have no desire to leave.

One job that could intrigue him, though, is the chance to coach LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers.

While the Lakers had a first-round playoff exit in 2021 and didn't reach the playoffs this season with a 33-49 record, they are only two years removed from winning a championship.

Injuries to James and Davis have largely been to blame for the Lakers' struggles the past two seasons, but the sky is the limit for Los Angeles if they can both stay healthy.

Even so, NBA insider Marc Stein noted that there are "complications" involved with pursuing a coach who is under contract, which is the case with Nurse.

The Lakers would need Nurse to want to come to L.A., and then they would have to part with assets in order to get him.

Nurse would perhaps be the perfect fit for the Lakers, but with so many obstacles standing in the way of getting him, general manager Rob Pelinka and ownership may have to consider other options instead.