American-Nigerian coach, Ime Udoka has emerged as the potential candidate to lead Canadian professional basketball team Toronto Raptors if current coach Nick Nurse leaves.
Nick Nurse is under contract with the Toronto Raptors until the end of the 2023-24 season and despite showing some improvements this season, it has been reported that the Raptors front office is open to a change.
Nurse could be allowed to see out his contract but his recent comments made it clear he is not totally against the idea of stepping aside.
Speaking to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Nurse gave an insight into his short-term plans.
“Once the season ends, I would like to take a few weeks to see where I’m at, where my head’s at. And just see how the relationship with the organization is.”
The 55-year-old is in his fifth season as coach of the Raptors and has led the team to a 40-40 record this season, which is only good enough for ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
According to the Toronto Star, former Celtics coach Ime Udoka would be the front-runner should a coaching change be made.
Udoka did an excellent job in Boston last year, leading the team to a 51-31 record, including a trip to the NBA finals in his only season as head coach.
He was suspended for the entire 2022-23 season after it was discovered that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a staff member of the Celtics and after serving that suspension, is now free to take another job wherever he chooses.
Udoka played for the D’Tigers at the 2006 FIBA World Championships where he led Nigeria in scoring, assists, and steals. Udoka also played for Nigeria in the 2005 and 2011 FIBA Africa Championships, winning a bronze medal in both tournaments.
Udoka has served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball under his Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich. Udoka’s coaching role on the 2019 FIBA World Cup team helped him build relationships with Celtics players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, who advocated for his hiring as the new Boston head coach.