Nick Nurse made history in his first season as head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
In leading the franchise to its first ever championship, Nurse became only the ninth coach in NBA history to win a title in his first year as head coach, joining the likes of Steve Kerr, Pat Riley and Tyronn Lue.
But now what?
Coming off of a busy summer in which he coached Canada in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Nurse enters the 2019-20 NBA season with a new team, a new coaching staff and new expectations.
Here's how each of those factors impact both Nurse and the Raptors.
The Raptors might not be expected to compete for a championship next season, but they are still projected to be one of the top teams in the East. As of the end of July, Caesar's Palace had Toronto's over/under for 2019-20 at 45 wins, the sixth-highest total in the conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks (57), Philadelphia 76ers (54.5), Boston Celtics (49.5), Indiana Pacers (48.5) and Brooklyn Nets (47).
How Nurse coaches this team will go a long way in determining whether or not they meet those expectations.
For example, in losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency - more on that in a bit - there are a number of key decisions that need to be made, such as who starts at shooting guard and small forward. Nurse is also reportedly thinking about playing Siakam more at small forward, which could open the door for Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol to play more together, a look we didn't see much of until the playoffs.
MORE: Is Siakam ready to take over for the Raptors?
Making Nurse's job more complicated is the roster could look very different come February depending on what Masai Ujiri decides to do at the trade deadline. With Kyle Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka each in the final years of their current deals, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Raptors look to move them before they hit unrestricted free agency. Those three alone add up to nearly $84 million in expiring contracts, which gives Ujiri plenty of options should he decide to wheel and deal. They otherwise run the risk of letting three key players walk for nothing.
There should be plenty of interest in them as well. Even though they'll each make over $20 million next season, they could make a difference to teams looking for an upgrade at either point guard or centre - think the 76ers, whose backup point guards entering the season are Shake Milton and Trey Burke, or the LA Clippers, who are currently thin at centre with Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell.
There's likely nothing imminent as Raptors are months away from having to make those decisions. Regardless, they'll impact Nurse one way or the other and it's worth keeping an eye on as a significant subplot for 2019-20.
MORE: How Lowry can adapt for a new Raptors era
Replacing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green
Nurse needs to find a way to replace not one but two starters who were instrumental in the Raptors winning their first ever championship.
Leonard led the Raptors in scoring last season, posting 26.6 points per game in the regular season and 30.5 points per game in the playoffs. While Green didn't provide nearly the same scoring punch, he led the Raptors in both 3-pointers made (198) and 3-point percentage (.455) during the regular season while just missing out on making an All-Defensive Team for the second time in his career.
Leonard played the part of superstar while Green acted as the ultimate glue guy as evidenced by the fact that he finished fourth in the entire NBA in plus-minus behind only Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Though it will take a team effort to make up for those losses, early signs point towards Siakam and Fred VanVleet as players most expected to fill the void. In an interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan this offseason, Nurse said that he told Siakam and VanVleet that there are now "20-plus shots up for grabs."
Their response? "We're ready."
MORE: Expectations for the Raptors without Leonard
Rest assured that the Raptors do have some depth. OG Anunoby will be back in the rotation after an emergency appendectomy sidelined him for the entire postseason and the Raptors have three new additions in Matt Thomas, Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, each of whom bring something different to the table.
Lowry and Gasol could see an uptick in opportunities as well - Lowry as a scorer and Gasol as a playmaker.
Lowry's scoring fell to 14.2 points per game last season, his lowest total since he first joined the Raptors in 2012-13. And although Gasol certainly played a key role in the Raptors winning the title - mostly with his 3-point shooting and post defence - he saw his usage rate plummet with the Raptors compared to his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.
With more touches to go around, Toronto might benefit from running more of its offence through the Spaniard, as he's long been one of the best passing big men in the league.
MORE: How Nurse can get the most out of Gasol
A new coaching staff
Nurse's coaching staff will look quite different next season, too.
Phil Handy and Jeremy Castleberry joined Green and Leonard in their moves to Los Angeles this offseason - Handy to the Lakers, Castleberry to the Clippers. That paved the way for Nurse to add two new assistant coaches to his staff in Jon Goodwillie and Brittni Donaldson.
Goodwillie has been with the Raptors for over a decade, starting as a video and administrative intern in 2005 before becoming a head video coordinator in 2011. Donaldson has been with the Raptors for two seasons as a data analyst in the front office. With her promotion, she becomes the 10th female assistant coach in the NBA.
Additionally, Fabulous Flournoy, who has a history with Nurse in the British Basketball League, will take over as one of the assistant video coordinators/player development coaches, as will Mark Tyndale, who played for the G League's Iowa Energy back when Nurse was head coach of the team.
The likes of Nate Bjorkgren and Adrian Griffin are returning for another season with the Raptors, but Nurse will have a new coaching staff to work with next season, which only adds to the moving pieces.
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