Earl Watson is the newest member of Nick Nurse’s coaching staff. Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported Monday that Watson has accepted a coaching role with the Toronto Raptors.
Watson, who played for six different franchises over the course of a 13-year career, was most recently head coach of the Phoenix Suns (2016-17). The former point guard was also an assistant (and interim head coach after Jeff Hornacek’s firing) for Phoenix in 2015-16, when he formed a bond with Devin Booker.
Booker has credited Watson for Booker’s rapid rise to stardom, which culminated in a 2021 finals appearance.
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
Refreshed by a few years away from coaching, Watson joins an organization just two years removed from a championship. But Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s 2019 Finals MVP, is long gone and Kyle Lowry will turn 36 during the 2021-22 season.
So the signing of Watson––renowned for his developmental prowess––might signal an impending rebuild for the Raptors.
He only averaged 6.4 points per game, but Watson lasted well over a decade as a player. Watson was a cerebral point guard and a strong locker room presence. He figures to mentor Fred VanVleet as well as the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Especially if general manager Masai Ujiri opts to trade Kyle Lowry, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs could make sense to pair with Watson.