Perhaps the longest of longshots, Nick Nurse landing in Los Angeles to coach the Lakers this offseason appears to be a possibility already shot down by Nurse himself, at least publicly.
Nurse had been rumored as a target of the Lakers coaching search, one of the very first names linked to the team. But even then, the likelihood of Nurse leaving the Raptors for the Lakers felt slim, and he addressed the rumors head-on during his exit interview on Monday.
Nick Nurse on reports of the Lakers' interest in him: "I don't know where that stuff comes from and I'm focused on coaching this team."— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 2, 2022
It is amusing to think that Nurse, who is a Klutch Sports client, is unaware of where the rumors about him coaching Klutch’s top two clients — LeBron James and Anthony Davis — for the biggest franchise in the NBA could have possibly come from. But the reports of the Lakers being interested in Nurse never indicated the feeling was mutual, to be fair. Most signs, in fact, pointed to the opposite; of it being unlikely that Nurse would leave Toronto for Los Angeles.
Nurse’s contract extension last year was both for multiple years and for a salary that was among the tops in the league. While that alone doesn’t mean he didn’t have interest in coming to the Lakers this year, it means he’s pretty cozy in his current position and would take some convincing.
On top of that, the Lakers would have been required to work out a deal with the Raptors for compensation for Nurse should an agreement ever feel possible to make him the team’s new head coach. Considering he just signed an extension and based on precedent, at least one first round pick would have been required to agree to a deal, and Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri would have certainly squeezed every bit of value out of the Lakers.
As we are well aware, Nurse’s public comments do not technically rule out the possibility of him joining the Lakers. However, pair these public comments with the report of him not being interested in leaving Toronto, and it feels like perhaps the unlikeliest of the coaching candidates might be ruled out early in the process.
Only time will tell if Nurse actually does have interest in Los Angeles but right now, nothing has indicated that he does, nor has anything indicated he has equal levels of interest in the Lakers as they reportedly do in him, or any level of desire to end up here. While Nurse may have been the home run hire, it seems like the Lakers may have to move on to other candidates in their ongoing and patient search.