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Toronto Raptors to hire Trevor Gleeson of NBL as assistant coach

Photo Credit: Perth Wildcats/Twitter

When the Raptors lost assistant coach Jama Mahlalela to the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, it created yet another hole on Nick Nurse’s coaching staff. They wasted no time filling it.

Marc Stein is reporting that Australian basketball coach Trevor Gleeson will be joining the Toronto Raptors’ brass for the upcoming season. Gleeson comes to the team on the heels of being voted Coach of the Year in the NBL, Australia’s professional basketball league, after spending the last eight seasons with the Perth Wildcats.

As Stein notes in his tweet, Gleeson – the 53 year-old from Melbourne – led the Wildcats to five championships since his tenure began in 2013, and posted a 148-84 record with the club, a .638 overall winning percentage. Gleeson announced yesterday his intention to depart Perth to pursue NBA opportunities, and it didn’t take long for him to find one.

Gleeson also previously served as the head coach for the Townsville Crocodiles (2006-11) and Melbourne Tigers (2011-12), and has worked his way up to be one of Australia’s top basketball coaches. He has developed a reputation for being able to instill consistency and continuity within his teams, and is highly regarded for his basketball mind. Gleeson even spent time working with Australian football teams in order to broaden his knowledge about coaching as a whole, showing his willingness to constantly learn, adapt, and improve.

Raptors big man Aron Baynes and Gleeson are also currently serving together on the Australian men’s basketball team, as they vie to compete for a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Gleeson has served as an assistant coach on the national team since 2014. Baynes currently has a non-guaranteed contract with the Raptors for the 2021-22 season.

This continues a trend for the Raptors to search globally for its talent, both on and off the court. The recently-departed Sergio Scariolo was a highly respected international coach before being plucked to join the organization, and had an extremely successful three-year stint with the team, winning six playoff series total and being a part of the franchise’s 2019 NBA Championship.

Trevor Gleeson should be a complementary fit alongside Nick Nurse on the bench as someone who brings head coaching experience of his own with plenty of winning pedigree. The Raptors still have plenty of slots to fill on the bench for next season, but they have certainly bolstered their coaching pool with Gleeson’s hire.

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