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The morning after the Toronto Raptors blew a 19-point lead and missed half of their 36 free throw attempts against the Chicago Bulls in the play-in, coach Nick Nurse was not definitive about his future with the franchise. At his end-of-season media availability, Nurse told reporters on Thursday that his status will be evaluated, just like everything else. 

"I think, again, that that is certainly part of the evaluation of everything," Nurse said. "Listen, I think that, when you ask me what my job is here, my job is to make the best decisions for the organization. I've always believed that from Day 1, and I still believe that 10 years later: That, when you sit back and look at it, all the decisions you make have to be for what's best for the organization.

"And I think that we got a front office or a president in Masai [Ujiri] who passionately wants to win, and we've got a head coach who passionately wants to win," he continued. "That's why we've always been on the same page and have a great level of communication. Our goals are to win here, and that takes some evaluation on all fronts. That's all."

So, is it best for the organization for Nurse, who arrived in 2013 as an assistant coach, to stick around? Unclear. Thirteen days ago, in Philadelphia, he told reporters, "I think when this season gets done, we'll evaluate everything, and even personally, I'm going to take a few weeks to see ... where my head's at. And just see how the relationship with the organization is and everything." He added, "Ten years is a good time to sit back and reflect a little bit."

Now that the season is over, Nurse said, "The discussions [with Ujiri] are solid and open. He's asking me about things and I'm asking him about things. I think we're heading in the same directions." Nurse does not "have a whole lot of uncomfortable days working with him there," he said

Nurse has one year left on his contract. On "NBA Countdown" on Wednesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is a path for him to return, but he'll be "very high" on the Houston Rockets' list if he doesn't. This was not the first time that ESPN had reported on Houston's interest, and, a day before Nurse made those comments in Philadelphia, the Toronto Star's Doug Smith wrote that chatter about Nurse and the Rockets would not go away. (The Star also noted that the same is true about Ujiri's rumored interest in former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka as a potential replacement. The Celtics suspended Udoka before this season for several violations of team policy involving an inappropriate relationship with a woman who worked for the team.)

"The speculation of whether I was going to be back or not that started, I have no idea where that comes from or what I was supposed to do about that," Nurse said Thursday. "And what I thought was: I needed to try to get the team or any of the players or anybody focused back on the job at hand and try to not have to answer that question every game. It started coming one after another after another and I was trying to put it to bed so we could focus on the season." 

As The Athletic's Eric Koreen pointed out, Nurse's comments in Philadelphia followed the Star story and rumors that other teams were monitoring the situation, but they were not in response to a question directly about his future. In other words, he initially brought up the subject himself, and reporters had not been pressing him about it every game, at least not in his pre- and post-game press conferences. 

In a back-and-forth with reporters Thursday, Nurse said he didn't regret his comments in Philadelphia and that "the door got opened weeks before." 

Nurse said that he feels his message is still getting through to the players, and that he will meet with all of them individually on Thursday. 

After winning 48 games in 2021-22, Toronto took a step back. "This year we got a little bit disconnected at times, especially defensively," Nurse said. The Raptors' distinctive, aggressive style returned, but, according to Cleaning The Glass, they fell from a top-10 defense to a mediocre one, finishing 14th overall and 19th in the halfcourt. They improved on both ends after reuniting with center Jakob Poeltl at the trade deadline, but only enough to get to the .500 mark and bow out in the play-in. 

Nurse said that Ujiri and himself are "driving to figure out how to get back to a championship level." In 2019, Nurse's first season as an NBA head coach, Toronto won the title. He said that the goal is to do it again, but implied that he and the front office need to determine whether or not they're aligned on how to get there. 

"Listen, I love it here. I love it here and we've built a really strong culture. Again, that's what [Ujiri] is doing, that's what Bobby [Webster, Toronto's assistant general manager] is doing, that's what I'm doing. We gotta all evaluate how we can get that culture back to where we need it and get back to being a playoff team, first and foremost, and then getting to a level of winning. Winning it all, that's what we want to do. That's what we get up and go to work for, for the last 10 years, both him and I. For 10 years."

Nurse's future isn't the only thing up in the air in Toronto. Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Poeltl can all be unrestricted free agents in July, with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby to follow in 2024. Toronto could bring back the same core and the same coach next season, but, given how expensive it would be, the front office would surely expect different results.