The fiasco that is the Brooklyn Nets organization somehow managed to add another layer of drama to the young NBA season as the team fired head coach Steve Nash after a 2-5 start. Anytime a team is loaded the way the Nets have been throughout the last three seasons, expectations fly through the roof, but with only one playoff-series win over the last three years, it was clear a change at the helm was needed.
Anyone who watched the Nets’ disaster of a playoff series against the Boston Celtics in April could see that the team had given up on both ends of the floor. Kevin Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, averaged over five turnovers per game in the series on an abysmal 38% from the field. Kyrie Irving also struggled in the series, averaging his lowest points per game in a playoff series since his age-22 season. Nash had clearly lost the locker room, but the Nets decided to retain their coach to try and work through their issues.
Throughout Nash’s tenure, the team has undergone substantial changes and controversies, from All-Star James Harden quitting on the team, to Durant requesting a trade in the offseason, to just last week when Irving tweeted out a link to an anti-Semitic movie that quotes Adolf Hitler. Nash was clearly not equipped to handle the drama that comes with leading a team filled with superstars.
To Nash’s credit, he will go down as one of the winningest coaches in the Nets’ franchise history. Though he might not have been the best coach in the league, he did lead the Nets to the playoffs in each of his two full seasons, and he was one win away from knocking off the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals.
After the announcement that Nash was out, general manager Sean Marks held a press conference where he spoke about what led up to the decision to part ways with Nash. Marks said Nash came up to him after the Nets’ win against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night and said “[the players] are not responding to me.” Marks also pointed out that “since becoming head coach, [Nash] was faced with a number of unprecedented challenges.”
As for Nash’s replacement, it has been reported that former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be hired this week to take over as head coach. It’s a bold move for Brooklyn, as Udoka was suspended from the Celtics organization for “multiple violations of team policies… [but] did not point to a larger cultural problem of sexual misconduct.” It was later reported that the suspension was due to a consensual relationship with a female staffer.
In a vacuum, this is a fantastic hire for the Nets. Udoka just led the Celtics to the 2022 NBA Finals and placed fourth in Coach Of the Year voting. Udoka is a familiar face to the Nets as well, having been an assistant coach in Brooklyn in 2021. However, the world is not a vacuum, and the Udoka hire will come with even more controversy and questions for the front office. One would hope the team did their due diligence investigating the suspension from the Celtics organization, otherwise, the Nets will continue to be the biggest disaster in the NBA.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison, Wikipedia.