The Toronto Raptors‘ initial wave of head coaching candidates were made public on Thursday in a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski as the team begins the hiring process after parting ways with Nick Nurse last week.
Some names on the list may be familiar to Raptors fans — assistant coach Adrian Griffin has been retained by the team and will be interviewing for the job — but Masai Ujiri and the Raptors front office have received permission to interview a number of other coaches as well. Some hopefuls include assistants Charles Lee (Milwaukee Bucks), Kenny Atkinson (Golden State), Kevin Young (Phoenix Suns), Mitch Johnson (San Antonio Spurs), Jordi Fernandez (Sacramento Kings), Darko Rajakovic (Memphis Grizzlies), and Chris Quinn (Miami Heat).
Former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka’s name had been linked to the role for weeks, even before the spot on the Raptors bench was officially vacant, but Udoka preferred to sign with the Houston Rockets instead.
One name gathering attention on the list of initial candidates is current Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon. She led the Aces to their first WNBA championship in 2022 during her first season as head coach, after eight seasons as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon has been connected to several head coaching positions in the NBA over the past few years, but ultimately signed with the WNBA franchise she played with (the Aces were formerly the San Antonio Stars) ahead of the 2022 WNBA season.
Another name that has been tossed around has been Vanderbilt University head coach and former Raptors assistant Jerry Stackhouse, but he was not included in Wojnarowski’s report.
In his end of season press conference last week, Raptors president Masai Ujiri told the media that they would like to have a head coach hired before the upcoming NBA Draft in June. They plan to take their time and thoroughly explore their options before making a decision.
The team announced the decision to fire Nick Nurse after the Raptors disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Play In tournament, following a tumultuous season for the franchise as a whole.
Nurse had been with the franchise for 10 years, five of those as head coach. He had the best winning percentage (.582) of any head coach in franchise history with a record of 227 wins and 163 losses.