The Toronto Raptors have reportedly made the first step towards filling out their coaching staff.
According to a report from Yahoo's Chris Haynes, the Raptors are nearing a deal to add NBA veteran and former head coach Earl Watson to Nick Nurse's coaching staff.
After being pursued by multiple teams, former Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson is finalizing a deal to join the Toronto Raptors coaching staff, league sources tell @YahooSports. Devin Booker credited Watson for his accelerated development. pic.twitter.com/I1FQYpBkmr- Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 26, 2021
Watson, 42, spent 13 years as a point guard in the NBA before beginning his coaching career as an assistant with the Austin Spurs of the NBA G League. After a year in Austin, Watson moved onto the NBA, where he joined Jeff Hornacek's staff as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns ahead of the 2015-16 season.
After the midseason firing of Hornacek, Watson was named Phoenix's interim coach at 36 years old, making his head coaching debut against the Raptors on Feb. 2, 2016.
The franchise dropped the interim label in the 2016 offseason, and Watson led the team to a 24-58 record during his first full season as head coach. He was let go three games into his second full season with the Suns, having led the team for 118 games.
Despite a lack of team success, Watson was credited with his role in developing Phoenix's young talent, namely Devin Booker, who spoke highly of his former coach during the postseason.
"I credit Earl (for) a lot," Booker told reporters ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals. "He was one of the early ones in the NBA industry to believe in me to that extent. I think it started with him being my player development (coach) before he was the head coach… He was on the court with me, sweating with me, putting in the work with me and just coincidentally happened that he ended up being the head coach."
Watson is now reportedly set to add that dynamic to a Raptors staff that has already garnered a reputation as being one of the best in the league in the department of developing talent. He stands to join a staff that has seen four assistants in Nate Bjorkgren, Chris Finch, Jama Mahlalela and Sergio Scariolo move on in the past year, though a reunion with Bjorkgren could be on the horizon.
Stick with NBA.com for more updates surrounding Watson and the potential additions to Nurse's coaching staff.
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