Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash is the Brooklyn Nets’ new head coach, the team announced Thursday. The New York Times’ Marc Stein first reported the hiring.
It’s a splashy, surprising move, and one that clearly impacts the broad picture of the head coaching market. Also of note is that, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Jacque Vaughn will stay with the Nets as the team’s lead assistant and become the highest-paid assistant in the NBA. Vaughn had been serving as Brooklyn’s interim head coach since the firing of Kenny Atkinson.
This will be the 46-year-old Nash’s first head coaching job. He already has a relationship with Brooklyn star Kevin Durant from his time as a player development consultant with the Warriors. Back in January, Nash chatted with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid after a Sixers win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. He then shared his thoughts on Simmons and the challenges facing Brett Brown, who the Sixers ultimately fired after being swept by the Celtics.
“That’s a challenge for this club, is how do all the pieces fit together? Ben’s ability at both ends of the floor is unique and he’s a special, special player,” Nash told reporters.
“I wouldn’t put it past him to become a reliable shooter at some stage in his career, but he still does so many things at both ends of the floor that if you could find a way as an organization to promote that, you have an incredible, incredible piece. That is a huge challenge — how do all the pieces fit? … I think it’s something that Brett [Brown] and everyone are working through every day. It’s a gift and a curse.”
For the Sixers, Nash’s hiring means one team that was a possibility for Tyronn Lue is done its search. Lue and the Sixers have “strong mutual interest,” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported Wednesday. The vacant heading coaching positions in the NBA are currently the Sixers, Pacers, Bulls and Pelicans. The Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni has an expiring contract and will be a Pacers target if he becomes available, according to Wojnarowski. Houston advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a tight Game 7 win Wednesday over the Thunder.
Lue, 43, is in the NBA’s Disney World bubble as the lead assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, who begin their second-round playoff series Thursday night vs. the Denver Nuggets. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told The New York Post’s Brian Lewis that he’s encouraged Lue to interview for head coaching positions during the playoffs.
“He’s been phenomenal on my staff,” Rivers said, per Lewis. “It’s amazing getting him after being a coach once and now he’s your assistant again. And the difference in him, people don’t understand that little 2 feet next step [to the head coach chair], you change. Ty’s come back, he’s an amazing coach.
“He’s been absolutely [great]. He’s just a wonderful guy to be around. His IQ, his feel, he’s made this year really enjoyable for me.”
We analyzed Lue’s candidacy for the Sixers job here.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand said on Aug. 25 he was doing a “thorough assessment” of the Sixers’ front office. At this stage, the team has yet to announce any changes to front office changes personnel.
Brand said he’d be leading the team’s head coaching search and making his recommendation to managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer.