The Toronto Raptors fired head coach Dwane Casey on Friday morning, four days after the team was swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight season. Despite winning Coach of the Year in the coach’s vote, and winning a franchise record 59 wins en route to the No. 1 seed, Toronto is opting to go in another direction.
Now they’ll enter a free agent coaching market that’s hitting its peak. Three new head coaches have already been signed: James Borrego to the Charlotte Hornets, David Fizdale to the New York Knicks, and Igor Kokoskov to the Phoenix Suns. The Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, and Detroit Pistons are still interviewing candidates, too.
Here’s a list of potential replacements for Casey in Toronto, including those who have already interviewed for other head coachng jobs this summer, in alphabetical order.
Budenholzer was the Atlanta Hawks’ head coach for the past five years, and an assistant with the Spurs for 17 years before that. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he’s going to get “close inspection” for the Raptors’ coaching vacancy.
Budenholzer’s won four championships as an assistant under Gregg Popovich, and was named Coach of the Year in 2015 when the Hawks won 60 games as the No. 1 seed in the East. That team was swept by LeBron James’ Cavaliers in the conference finals.
Budenholzer is clearly looking for a win-now situation, abandoning a rebuilding Hawks franchise, and the Raptors could be a fit.
Hammon has been an assistant coach with the Spurs under Gregg Popovich since 2014. In 2015, she became the first female to not only head coach an NBA Summer League game, but win a championship. Four Popovich assistants have interviewed for head coaching positions including Hammon, who is in consideration for the Bucks’ vacancy. James Borrego already signed with Charlotte.
Before coaching, Hammon spent 15 years in the WNBA, earning six all-star nods and two All-WNBA First-Team selections. In 2016, she was named one of the WNBA’s best 20 players of all time.
Messina has been an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio since 2014, and head coached top European teams over the last 29 years. In that span, he’s won four EuroLeague titles, two EuroLeague Coach of the Year awards, four Italian League championships and five Russian League championships.
He’s filled in for Popovich as head coach of the Spurs for brief stints in the past, including the final two games of San Antonio’s postseason run this year.
Nurse has been the Raptors’ assistant coach since 2013, and could be a candidate to promote into Casey’s role.
The 50-year-old has been assistant coaching since 1989 for college teams including Northern Iowa and South Dakota, and head coached European teams between. He was the head coach of the then-D-League’s Iowa Energy for four years, followed by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers team for two seasons after.
He won D-League Coach of the Year in 2011, and won the championship in 2011 and 2013.
Williams is currently the vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs, a job he’s had since 2016. Prior to that, he served as the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans head coach for five years, assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers for five years, and one year as an Oklahoma City Thunder associate head coach. As head coach, Williams made the playoffs twice and lost in the first round of both.
Stackhouse is currently the head coach for the Raptors’ G League team, Raptors 905. He’s been their head coach since the 2016-17 season, and was an assistant the season before. In two seasons as head coach, Stackhouse has coached Raptors 905 to the best defensive rating in the league both years. He won the then-D-League championship in 2017, as well as Coach of the Year honors.
Through all the struggles a G League coach has to face, including players getting called up and constant roster change, Stackhouse’s consistency is impressive.
Before coaching, Stackhouse spent 18 years in the NBA as a player for eight teams, making two NBA All-Star Games for the Detroit Pistons.
Stan Van Gundy
Van Gundy was fired by the Detroit Pistons after four underwhelming years as head coach and president of basketball operations. The Pistons made one playoff run in Van Gundy’s tenure, losing in the first round.
His firing ended his third head coaching stint. He previously spent five years with the Orlando Magic and two with the Miami Heat. He spent 20 years before that head and assistant coaching at various colleges including Wisconsin, Fordham, Vermont, Canisius, and UMass Lowell.