The Toronto Raptors should hire Damon Stoudamire after Arizona passed

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The Toronto Raptors might not have piled up a ton of victories in the early days of their franchise, but they were able to create one of the most exciting looks and feels of the late-90s. While their audacious dinosaur uniforms and high-flying style of play caught the attention of the NBA, point guard Damon Stoudamire was a huge reason why.

Despite standing only 5-10, the first Raptors draft pick averaged 19.6 points and 8.8 assists per game with Toronto before his career-altering trade to Portland. Almost immediately after retiring, Stoudamire got into coaching, bouncing around the professional and collegiate ranks before becoming the head coach at The University of the Pacific.

Stoudamire was mentioned as a “name to watch” in the Arizona Wildcats head coaching search after the dismissal of Sean Miller, but he didn’t get to make the storybook return to his alma mater.

Stoudamire was passed over for the Arizona job in favor of Tommy Lloyd, a long-time assistant on Mark Few’s Gonzaga teams. If Stoudamire wants a better HC job, and if the Raptors want to show love to one of the most talented players in franchise history, Nurse should hire him as an assistant coach to replace Chris Finch. 

Damon Stoudamire would make a terrific assistant for the Toronto Raptors.

Stoudamire struggled in his first three seasons with the Tigers, but his 32-19 record in the last two years at a school that very rarely lands top recruits should serve as a sign that he knows his way at the whiteboard and in the locker room. He could bring the same cutting-edge stuff he’s had success with in Stockton to Toronto.

Not only did Finch leave the Raptors for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Nate Bjorkgren used his experience with Toronto to get the Indiana Pacers job. Why be a college coach when a few seasons under Nurse could help someone like Stoudamire become a coach in the NBA?

If he is set on the Arizona job, going to the NBA would still be the best way for him to prove himself. Patrick Ewing ended up at Georgetown thanks to his long career as an NBA assistant, and former Knicks assistant Mike Woodson took his first college coaching job at Indiana. Stoudamire could do the same if he plays his cards right.

Hiring Stoudamire, irrespective of his lengthy resume, would also be a nice callback to the pioneering era of Raptors basketball that laid the foundation for the success the club enjoys today.

Stoudamire might not have loved Toronto his first time around, but this might be the best step for him in his career. The Raptors get to reconnect with the best player from their first couple of seasons in the league, and Stoudamire potentially joins the Nick Nurse pipeline that has helped several others get head coaching jobs.