Nets fire Steve Nash, seeks new leadership amid troubling start

Alder Almo
Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Nets
Jan 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) sits on the scorer’s table behind head coach Steve Nash against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One of Kevin Durant’s offseason demands was finally granted Tuesday as the Brooklyn Nets announced they had parted ways with erstwhile head coach Steve Nash.

Not even a 116-109 win over the Indiana Pacers Monday night could not save Nash’s job.

“We want to thank Steve for everything he brought to our franchise over the past two-plus seasons. Since becoming head coach, Steve was faced with a number of unprecedented challenges, and we are sincerely grateful for his leadership, patience and humility throughout his tenure. Personally, this was an immensely difficult decision; however, after much deliberation and evaluation of how the season has begun, we agreed that a change is necessary at this time. We wish Steve, Lilla and their family all the best in the future.”

GM Sean Marks via Nets official statement

With a heavy heart, Nets owner Joe Tsai relieved Nash of his coaching duties after their friendship grew throughout his tenure.

“I’ve gotten to know Steve during his time in Brooklyn, and he is not one to shy away from challenges. My admiration and respect for him grew over time as he brought hard work and positive attitude to our organization every day, even in periods of exceptional storm surrounding the team. Clara and I want to thank Steve, Lilla and their family for making this extraordinary commitment. We began this journey as colleagues, we part as friends.”

Joe Tsai via Nets official statement

Long-time Nets assistant coach Jacque Vaughn will step in as acting coach when the Nets host the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night at the Barclays Center.

Nash posted a heartfelt message to the organization and its fan base on Twitter shortly after the Nets made his firing official.

“A very heartfelt thanks to Joe and Clara Tsai along with Sean Marks for giving me the opportunity to coach the Brooklyn Nets. It was an amazing experience with many challenges that I’m incredibly grateful for.

It was a pleasure to work with the players, performance team and front office everyday. I’m especially grateful to my coaching staff and video room who are a talented group with so much character and professionalism.

Lastly, thanks to Brooklyn and the passionate fans who support this team. Family first and my family has a found a home here and LOVES being a part of this beautiful community. I wish the Nets all the success in the world and the Nash’s will be rooting for our team as they turn this season around.”

Steve Nash via Twitter

Nash was positioned as the connector who will lead the Durant-Kyrie Irving era, which hasn’t been as successful as they expected since their free-agent coup in the summer of 2019.

Nash replaced Kenny Atkinson in 2020 and has compiled a 94-67 win-loss record in two-plus seasons with the Nets. He led them to the Eastern Conference semifinals in his first year, losing to eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in a grueling seven-game series.

But his second season was a disaster as Irving torpedoed it with his anti-vaccine stance, which contributed to the James Harden fallout. Their first-round exit led Durant to seek a trade last summer. Once there were not amenable offers to the Nets liking, Durant demanded the ouster of Nash and Marks.

Tsai stood by Nash and Marks. But the team’s poor start due to their league-worst defense was too much to stomach.

The Nets are seeking a new voice with suspended Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who was part of Nash’s coaching staff in his first year, and Quin Snyder as possible candidates, among others, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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