BREAKING NEWS: Brooklyn Nets to hire Steve Nash as next head coach (Report)

The Brooklyn Nets will reportedly hire Steve Nash as the 27th head coach in team history. Interim boss Jacque Vaughn will be retained.

Per ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are set to name Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash the 27th head coach in team history. Nash’s initial contract will be for four years.

Wojnarowski also reports that interim head coach Jacque Vaughn will be retained as an assistant and “become the league’s best compensated assistant coach”.

This will be the first coaching job for Nash, 46, who spent 18 seasons with Phoenix, Dallas, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Johannesburg, South Africa native entered the league as a first-round pick (15th overall) of the Suns in 1996 out of Santa Clara. Nash is generally regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history, winning two MVP awards (2005, 2007) and reaching eight All-Star Games. He also leads NBA players with four 50-40-90 seasons, shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the foul line. Larry Bird is the only other player in NBA history to earn multiple such seasons. Nash was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 alongside fellow former Suns teammates Jason Kidd and Grant Hill.

After retiring in 2015, he took on part-time consultant duties with the Golden State Warriors, partaking in the team’s most recent two championship runs (2017, 2018). He also held a similar role for the Canadian national basketball squad, previously serving as the team’s general manager for nearly seven years. The team earned a silver medal at the 2015 PanAmerican Games in Toronto, their best finish in the tournament’s history.

Vaughn returns to assistant duties after taking over for the fired Kenny Atkinson in March. He went 7-3 during his time at the helm, including a surprising 5-3 mark in the NBA’s Orlando bubble proceedings. Brooklyn was swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

This story will be updated pending further information.

Geoff Maglocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets to ‘explore’ bringing in Gregg Popovich

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

The first order of business for the Brooklyn Nets this offseason is hiring a full-time head coach. The team fired head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, promoting Jacque Vaughn under the interim tag.

Despite mentioning the low likelihood that it comes to fruition, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Nets are expected to “explore” acquiring San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“The lovable underdog days of the Nets are numbered, with league sources, including those familiar with the Nets and the Spurs, expecting Brooklyn to explore bringing the NBA’s biggest coaching name — Gregg Popovich — to the Nets’ sidelines.

Brooklyn, according to sources, almost certainly will be unsuccessful because the Spurs coach’s legacy is so closely tied to San Antonio, where he’s built a life and a legacy over the past two decades. Plus he’s under contract. There’s a “never say never” element according to one NBA executive, but it’ll probably never happen.”

Popovich signed a three-year extension with the Spurs last year. San Antonio was eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday, marking the first time since 1997 that they’ve missed the playoffs under Popovich.

Popovich was an assistant for the Spurs from 1988-94. He has been the team’s head coach since the 1996-97 NBA season and has won five NBA championships, the last coming in the 2013-14 season.

Last week it was reported that the Nets will meet with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Nets are 7-3 under Vaughn. They finished the 2019-20 regular season 35-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will face off with the two-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, which begins on Monday.

Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving offers words of encouragement for Caris LeVert

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are without roughly half their roster in the NBA bubble due to a combination of injuries and players opting out of play. Subsequently, those present have assumed larger workloads in head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation, one of them being Caris LeVert.

In the six games he has appeared in since the regular season resumed, LeVert has averaged 25.0 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

Kyrie Irving is among the Nets players absent from the bubble, but the star point guard has offered LeVert words of encouragement (quotes per Marc Berman of the New York Post).

“I talked to Ky [on Friday] morning, talked about the games and playoffs coming up and giving me encouragement,’’ LeVert said on a Zoom call Saturday. “He’s watching all the games. He’s been in this position before, fighting for something.’’

The Nets took the Portland Trail Blazers, who were playing to get into the NBA playoffs, to the final buzzer of their Thursday night matchup. Despite losing 134-133, there were positives for the Nets to build on, specifically LeVert’s performance.

The homegrown first rounder finished with 37 points, nine assists and six rebounds while shooting 16-of-29 from the field. LeVert finished the 2019-20 NBA regular season averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Vaughn feels Irving reaching out to LeVert is “huge.”

“It’s huge Caris got a call from Ky — that’s a great thing this isn’t an individual sport,’’ Vaughn said. “Just because we don’t have the group with us, doesn’t mean they can’t be part of it. Caris appreciated that.’’

The Nets finished the regular season 35-37, which is good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and 5-3 in the bubble. They’ll begin their first-round series matchup with the second-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors on Monday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.

Brooklyn Nets coaching candidates revealed

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are candidates to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Charania says that Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a “full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players.” The process will begin after the Nets’ season concludes.

Kidd played seven and a half seasons with the New Jersey Nets and coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after one year, where he coached for three and a half seasons. Kidd is in his first season as an assistant with the Lakers.

Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-19. He joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2019.

Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2011-13, the Clippers in the 2013-14 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-16 before being promoted to head coach in January 2016. Lue’s Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship. The head coach was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and rejoined the Clippers coaching staff in 2019.

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA in 2007. He was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Beforehand, he was an assistant for the New York Knicks from 1989-96. He then became the team’s head coach in 1996, a position he’d hold until 2002.

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach in March.

The Nets, 34-36, are 6-2 under Vaughn and 4-2 in the NBA bubble. They recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Walt Disney World.

Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

Jacque Vaughn the favorite ‘against the field’ to coach the Brooklyn Nets next season

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Among the many storylines surrounding the Brooklyn Nets is their head-coaching future. Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Brooklyn and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in March.

Vaughn coached two games before the NBA season was suspended and will be traveling to coach the Nets in Walt Disney World later this month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vaughn could be roaming the Nets’ sidelines beyond the summer festivities.

On the latest edition of “The Woj Pod,” Wojnarowski said he’d take Vaughn “against the field” to be the Nets head coach next season.

“He’s the head coach. They didn’t make him interim coach. I think the Nets are considering the possibility of a search, but I would still give Jacque Vaughn — I would take Jacque Vaughn against the field right now.”

Prior to his head-coaching promotion Vaughn was an assistant under Atkinson for three and a half seasons, the head coach of the Magic from 2012-15 and an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-12.

The Nets have been connected to other coaches around the league such as Tyronn Lue, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, among others.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Forward Wilson Chandler and center DeAndre Jordan have opted out of the NBA season, and big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Nets signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson. Jarrett Allen recently discussed the challenges of players living in the NBA bubble and his role in the Nets rotation with the aforementioned players absent.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to resume on July 30.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen talks NBA bubble, his role in team’s rotation

Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Allen

In an interview with Brian Lewis of the New York Post, Brooklyn Nets big man Jarrett Allen expressed uncertainty about whether players will be able to fully abide by the rules of the NBA bubble in Walt Disney World later this month.

“It’s going to be 310 players or something like that. Take NBA players out of it: That’s a lot of people to make sure you have complete control and complete guidelines over. Then you add the NBA aspect, a bunch of grown men in this situation. We have our needs, we have our wants, and you know how we are,” Allen said with a smile. “I agree there’s going to be some level of hardship like Dame [Damian Lillard] said.”

Despite the varying levels of apprehension Allen feels the players are in good hands with the NBA and Walt Disney World.

“For everybody, including myself, it’s a little bit of worry. We’re all going to an unknown,” Allen said. “But at the end of the day, I have no doubt the two powerhouses — Disney and the NBA — are coming up with the best solution for us. Obviously, there’s a little doubt in my mind; we’re all human. But I’m confident.

Allen ultimately determined his best choice was to suit up for Brooklyn this summer.

“I did question myself whether it’s worth risking my health. But at the end of the day, weighing the options, it’s better for me to go.”

The Brooklyn Nets could use some more big men

Head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation will be thin inside, as center DeAndre Jordan will be sitting out the resumption of the NBA season in the wake of testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, fellow big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury, and forward Wilson Chandler announced he will also be sitting out.

Allen feels there’s “some” pressure on him to answer the bell.

“There is some pressure. I don’t want to say I’m the last big standing, as bad as that sounds. There’s some pressure for me to be able to stay healthy and help the team succeed,” Allen said.

“I’ve been in this position before… Rookie year I was the main big playing, then last year when Ed [Davis] got hurt I had the load, and this year this happened. I just need to come out and prove I’m able to play at this level again.”

Allen is averaging 10.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season.