ESPN – Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash has signed a four-year contract to become the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets, sources told ESPN. The Nets announced the hiring Thursday afternoon.
In recent weeks, Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks have been aggressive in recruiting Nash to make the leap that he had so far resisted in his retirement as a transcendent player: head coaching.
The Nets are keeping Jacque Vaughn as the lead coach and making him the highest-paid assistant in the league, sources said. Vaughn made a strong impression on Tsai and Marks after taking over for Kenny Atkinson in February, including during the league’s restart in Orlando, and he likely would’ve been the Nets choice had Nash been unconvinced of taking the job, sources said.
My first reaction was WOW Steve Nash is jumping into coaching! Followed immediately by wow the Nets are AGAIN hiring a head coach with zero coaching experience just six years after the unmitigated disaster that was the Jason Kidd experiment. But in all seriousness, I love this move for the Nets.
Ironically enough, Nash and Kidd went into the HOF the same year, but Nash is a different story entirely. A lot of people don’t realize Nash has actually been running the Canadian National Team for years as its GM from 2012-2019. So he has quietly been developing his team building chops for a while behind the scenes. I completely forgot he was a consultant for the Warriors too so he apparently already has a relationship with Kevin Durant. Add in the fact the Nets’ GM Sean Marks was a teammate of Nash’s in Phoenix and he’ll have solid backing right out of the gate.
Despite all that I do wonder how Nash as the guy in charge for the first time will mesh with mercurial superstars in Kyrie Irving and Durant. But these guys likely hand picked Nash so they should be on board. It will be interesting to see how the three work together when things inevitably get rocky like they do for any team. We’ll see just how much of LeBron has rubbed off on Kyrie, as LeBron is infamous for working behind the scenes to hire and fire coaches.
Nash is an extremely intelligent guy who has played with Hall of Famers, superstars, and mercurial talents like Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Grant Hill, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, and Joe Johnson among others. This guy has probably been an armchair psychologist for the better part of 20 years. He played with Ron Artest for christs sake.
Not to mention he has been teammates with a handful of guys that went into coaching themselves like Kidd, Avery Johnson, Walter McCarty, and Steve Blake. He even played for Danny Ainge in the late 90s!
This is all before you even mention just how great of a player Steve Nash truly was. He’s a 2x MVP and an 8x All-Star so this isn’t some stats nerd holding the clipboard, this is one of the greatest players of all time. Yet he’s still young enough at 46 for Durant and Kyrie to be violently aware of Nash’s stature as a legend of the game. That grants him boatloads of respect just walking through the door.
Although as a rookie head coach Nash needs to be prepared for the ball busting that will inevitably come from the veterans on the team for his ill advised Sports Illustrated cover shoot in LA.
I am fascinated thinking about how Nash will coach his team considering he was part of arguably the most famous offense ever created (behind the Triangle Offense) with the Seven Seconds or Less Suns. He won two MVPs playing for Mike D’Antoni in that style of offense so I wonder is something like that going to be his bread and butter? Add in the fact he was a consultant with the Warriors and you get a guy that has institutional knowledge of how to run a fast paced, pick and roll focused, three ball launching type of offense. Kyrie would EAT in that type of offense. Now he obviously has two superstars on his roster that can score from anywhere regardless of the offense, but Nash is more than aware of how too many stars on one team not buying into a system can sabotage a seemingly great thing. Remember his comments from his time in LA where he not so subtly criticized the offense they installed/the lack of adoption from some of their core guys.
“I think Dwight just didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t like it. You either have to decide and say ‘I’m not going to like it and move on or just eat it and make it work. You could tell he wasn’t committed to moving on. He didn’t like it. He was stuck in ‘I don’t like it mode.’ I’m not putting it on him but you can tell it really bothered him.”
…Howard resisted playing pick-and-roll with a point guard who perfected that play.
“He wanted to get the ball in the post,” Nash said. “Kobe can be a pain in the [butt]. Tough beans. That’s tough beans. Instead of being like, That’s Kobe and moving on and trying to work with it, it bothered him and ruffled his feathers. The ball didn’t move enough for him. When the ball doesn’t move enough, it means he didn’t get the ball enough.”
Either way I think his collection of experience of being the best player in the world, the pilot of the best offense in the league, the teammate of future NBA coaches, the elder statesman on a disastrous Lakers team, the GM of Team Canada, and a consultant for the All-World Warriors teams puts him in a unique position as a rookie head coach. I’m excited to see what he does for the Nets even if I do hope the Celtics crush them for the next decade.