For a host of practical — and common-sense — reasons, Nick Nurse spurning the Raptors for the Lakers seems to be a hypothetical losing steam already. Part of the reason is the way the Lakers continue to work as a franchise, particularly when it came to the constant undercutting of their previous head coach from the very beginning of the process.
Coaching free agents aren’t the only ones considering their options and whether to return to Los Angeles. Avery Bradley, Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore all are veterans that could potentially return to the team next season.
Let’s look at the latest reports and headlines.
The latest on those Nick Nurse rumors
Still the most surprising name mentioned in the Lakers coaching search has been Raptors lead man Nick Nurse. An interest born out of being a Klutch client, Nurse is a Phil Jackson product, but that effectively spells the end of his connections with the Lakers.
For a host of practical reasons, it never felt likely that the Lakers could pry Nurse away from Toronto and veteran NBA insider Marc Stein reported during his latest Spotify Green Room that it appears to be unlikely the title-winning coach comes to SoCal.
“I don’t see it happening, and I don’t see Nick Nurse ever admitting this, but of course I would have to think that it would interest him... It’s still the Lakers. It’s still the most glamorous franchise on the NBA map, and if they genuinely want him, I’m sure that on some level that he’s taken notice of that. But I don’t see how it happens. Yes, he’s a Klutch client, and so certainly that’s where it originates. I don’t think LeBron James really knows Nick Nurse, but Nick Nurse’s coaching acumen is well-known around the league, and LeBron is a far smarter student of the game than me, so he’s seen the kinds of things that Nurse has done.
“But practically, there’s zero indication that Nick wants to leave Toronto. Secondly, even if he did, he’s very early in a new contract. I think he has three years after this one, maybe two, but at least two after this one... And the Lakers are not exactly flush with draft compensation to get Nick Nurse out of it. So it’s the kind of thing where people around the league have been buzzing about it, I heard it last week, I didn’t report it because of all the practical obstacles that are in the way of it. I just don’t see how the Lakers could get Nick Nurse from the Raptors even if he was angling to get out, and I want to make it clear: I have not heard anything to that effect.
“It’s not just made up, people around the league are very much talking about it, I just can’t see how that could come to fruition... It is making the rounds to some degree, but is it people just adding two and two, and getting seven? I mean yes, he’s a Klutch client, yes he’s a great coach. Is there any practical way to get him? I don’t know.”
The most obvious pitfall in trying to land Nurse, as Stein discusses, is the lack of draft capital to pry Nurse out of his contract with the Raptors. Given his contract status, the Lakers would have to effectively trade for Nurse and any draft picks used in that deal would be draft picks unable to be used in a Russell Westbrook deal. It would also create a deliberation of how many draft picks Nurse would be worth and all that is assuming the Raptors see value in 2027 and 2029 first round picks for losing their head coach.
Because of all those reasons, Nurse feels like a distant option for the team, even if he’s viewed as an ideal solution.
What might actually turn coaches off about Lakers job
A lack of draft compensation isn’t the only thing separating the Lakers from coaching candidates. It’s already been reported that how the Lakers handled the end of Vogel’s tenure being something that is turning candidates — namely Quin Snyder — off from the job. Doc Rivers admitted as much as well and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has reported as much, too.
But how the team handled the beginning of Vogel’s tenure matters, too, and specifically the negotiations. Also in his Spotify Green Room, Stein spoke about what is turning coaches away from the Lakers job.
“There is no question that coach candidates will be turned off by that, and it is something that is being discussed and it is the kind of thing that makes the rounds amongst coaches instantly. People do pay attention to that stuff. However, it is still the Lakers, and it will still be a coveted job. And is that going to cost them candidates? That, to me, kind of seems like a stretch. Because again, there are things about the Laker job that are more off-putting than that. Really just the expectations and microscope you’re under, and so I’d say it’s a little bit of both. Yes people are talking about it, but the Lakers are still going to get any coach’s attention if they come after them.
“The bigger issues that the Lakers have to overcome are what kind of autonomy are you going to give a coach? Is he going to be able to pick his own assistants? Frank Vogel wasn’t. What kind of contract are you going to be offered? Because Frank Vogel only got a three-year deal, rather than the industry standard, which would be a four-year deal or a five-year deal. I think all those things matter more than the Vogel thing, which I’m sure the Lakers will have a private alibi or version of that story that they share with coaches in interviews if that comes up.”
When the Lakers last search for a head coach, part of the issue with candidates was the team’s insistence on having Jason Kidd on the staff of whoever was hired, a bizarre decision even still. And specifically with Ty Lue, the team’s lack of desire to give him more than a three-year deal cost them a chance at a very talented head coach.
Melo, Avery Bradley may be back, but Kent Bazemore is probably gone
The nature of signing a host of one-year deals as the Lakers did last offseason is there is a lot of uncertainty heading into this summer as to which players may return. While the season is less than a week over, there are some early indications on some of the veteran players.
As part of the “Lakers Report Card” series at The Los Angeles Times, Brad Turner wrote of Avery Bradley that we should “expect the Lakers to try to bring him back for another run since he’s a veteran who fits around the team’s superstars,” and he additionally reported that Carmelo Anthony “is not ready to retire, so expect the Lakers to try to bring him back as a key role player.”
Turner’s colleague, Dan Woike, meanwhile, wrote that Kent Bazemore is “looking for a chance to play — and that probably won’t be with the Lakers.”
Anthony spoke about his future during his exit interview and didn’t exactly sound like someone interested in a return to the Lakers. Considering how disappointing the season was overall, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team parts way with many of the free agents this year.