Raptors' Ujiri Says Teams Can 'Keep Dreaming' About Nick Nurse Amid Lakers Rumors

Adam WellsMay 3, 2022

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 23: President of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri presents the 2019-2020 Coach of the Year Award to Head Coach, Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors before the game against the Brooklyn Nets during Round One, Game Four of the NBA Playoffs on August 23, 2020 at the The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers might be hoping to make Nick Nurse their next head coach, but it doesn't sound like the Toronto Raptors are going to let him go. 

During his end-of-season press conference Tuesday, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said teams can "keep dreaming" when asked about the possibility of Nurse leaving the organization this offseason. 

Yahoo Sports Canada @YahooCASports

Full Masai Ujiri end-of-season availability is up. <br>SPOILER: Nick Nurse isn't going anywhere 😭<br><br>🎥: <a href="https://t.co/vkkQ3dp5h4">https://t.co/vkkQ3dp5h4</a> <a href="https://t.co/x99ibG0Qlc">pic.twitter.com/x99ibG0Qlc</a>

After the Lakers fired head coach Frank Vogel at the end of the regular season, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Nurse was "among" their top targets this offseason. 

Charania noted Nurse's current deal with the Raptors runs through the 2023-24 season. The Lakers would need to receive permission from Toronto's front office even to speak with him.

Since Nurse still has time remaining on his contract, the Raptors could insist on some compensation from Los Angeles if they decided to let him leave. 

Nurse seemed to downplay any possibility of him going to another team this offseason. 

"I don't know where that stuff comes from and I'm focused on coaching this team," he told reporters Monday. 

The Lakers could certainly use a coach of Nurse's caliber as they look for a quick turnaround after missing the playoffs this season. Their 33-49 record was the worst for the franchise since 2016-17 (26-56). 

Nurse is generally regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA. The 54-year-old has spent his entire NBA coaching career with the Raptors. He joined the team as an assistant coach on Dwane Casey's staff in July 2013. 

After five seasons in that role, Nurse was promoted to head coach following Casey's dismissal. He has a 186-122 record with three playoff appearances, including an NBA title during the 2018-19 season, in four years leading Toronto. 

The Raptors had a 21-win improvement this season after going 27-45 in 2020-21. They made the postseason as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the first round.