Following two campaigns as head coach for Houston's NBA D-League affiliate the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Chris Finch spent this past season as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, and recently became a candidate for the Sixers' head coach position. It seems that Finch is climbing the proverbial NBA coaching ladder, and current Vipers head coach Nick Nurse may be looking to follow in his footsteps.
After winning the NBA D-League title this last season with RGV, Nurse has been mentioned as a candidate for the assistant coach position in Toronto. Nurse has won NBADL titles with two different teams (Iowa Energy, Rio Grande Valley Vipers), in fact, Nurse defeated Finch for his first NBADL championship when his Energy squad toppled Finch's Vipers in 2011.
Nurse has a tremendous coaching pedigree including a gig with Finch as coaches for the British National Team, and earning credibility as a premiere developer of talent from his success in the NBADL. Nurse led Rio Grande Valley this past season to a 35-15 regular season mark, followed by an unblemished record in the postseason en route to the NBADL title. Now it seems Nurse has positioned himself nicely for a "Call-Up" to the NBA.
Finch enjoyed similar success as a head coach in the NBADL before earning a coaching position with the Rockets. In his two seasons with RGV, Finch went 67-33 (.670) and guided the Vipers to back-to-back NBA D-League Finals. Finch won the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award in 2009-2010 (Nurse won the award the following year) and the NBADL title as well that season. Finch demonstrated all the necessary tools needed for success at the NBA level while at RGV, which came after his gig as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2009 NBA Summer League.
Now Nurse will look to mimic Finch's coaching path, by hopefully landing a position in the NBA himself. Nurse's decision to leave Iowa after winning the title in 2011 for RGV (an NBADL single affiliate), spoke volumes about the end goal for the experienced coach, a position in the NBA.
With the guaranteed coaching movement set to take place this offseason, it seems safe to assume that Nurse will get an NBA opportunity. Nurse excelled in coaching arguably the most NBA-like roster in the D-League last season, and surely would be a huge asset for any team's bench. His move to RGV may of been his best professional decision to date, as the Rockets organization continues to be one of the leading franchises regarding their commitment to their NBADL affiliate.
Finch and Nurse have developed a unique bond through the years, and perhaps Finch carving out a path for Nurse to follow, will be another addition to their ever-growing coaching relationship.