In a move completely out of left field, the Brooklyn Nets announced Thursday morning they’re hiring NBA legend Steve Nash as head coach. Interim Jacque Vaughn will stay on as the team’s lead assistant.
Nash, 46, followed his 19-year Hall-of-Fame playing career by working as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, which, according to the team’s website, involved periodically dropping in to work with the team on the court.
Of note: His time with the Warriors also overlapped with one Kevin Durant.
Durant and Kyrie Irving, of course, now lead the charge in Brooklyn, who will look to leapfrog into the top tier of the Eastern Conference with a full and healthy complement of players in 2021. Before Thursday, the most buzzed about name linked to the Nets gig (Popovich rumors aside) had been Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, a logical candidate for a win-now club headlined by two mercurial stars. A well-regarded former player always made the most sense for the Nets, whose primary coaching needs are probably interpersonal.
Nash fits that bill too. He’s one of the greatest point guards to ever play— a back-to-back most valuable player award winner, eight-time All-Star and the third-ranked assist-man of all time. That he owns a previous bond with Durant, and played Irving’s position, is gravy.
The news sends ripples through the Bulls universe as well. As Artūras Karnišovas searches for the team’s 24th coach in franchise history, a number of desirable vacancies have opened up in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Indiana and Brooklyn in recent weeks (not to mention the possibility of Houston, should Mike D’Antoni leave after this season with his contract expiring).
Nash’s hiring removes an attractive, superstar-laden destination for the Bulls to compete with, even if the Nets and Bulls didn’t seem to necessarily be eyeing the same types of candidates. And Brooklyn didn’t pluck one of the Bulls’ reported interview targets in the process.