The Toronto Raptors have expressed interest in appointing current Virtus Bologna and Spanish national team leader Sergio Scariolo as their new head coach for the upcoming NBA season.
Should they secure Scariolo, he would become only the second European to serve as a head coach for an NBA team. The lone European coach to have held this role in the NBA was Igor Kokoskov, who briefly led the Phoenix Suns and currently acts as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks.
Scariolo met with Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster at the Majestic Hotel in Bologna on Thursday, who view him as a prime candidate.
They are quite familiar with him, as he worked as an assistant coach for Nick Nurse from 2018 to 2021 in Toronto. The Raptors are now searching for a new coach after parting ways with Nurse, who concluded his five-year tenure with a 227-163 record and three playoff appearances over five seasons.
During one of those playoff appearances, Toronto clinched the NBA Championship after defeating Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
This season, however, the Raptors failed to advance to the playoffs after a home loss to the Chicago Bulls in the first game of the play-in tournament.
Scariolo’s potential return to Toronto?
Scariolo is well-prepared for the challenges ahead in Canada, as the Raptors aim to slightly revamp their roster.
He’s also comfortable operating within the franchise, having been present during the golden era and the challenging COVID-19 period.
The meeting was the first point of contact between the two parties, prior to the Raptors making a final decision.
In the meantime, Toronto has conducted virtual interviews with former guard and current NBA analyst J.J. Redick.
Other contenders for the position include Becky Hammon (Vegas Aces), Patrick Mutombo (Raptors 905), Adrian Griffin (Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach), Kenny Atkinson (Warriors assistant coach), Charles Lee (Miami Heat assistant coach) and Jordi Fernandez (Sacramento Kings assistant coach).