Steve Nash and his fit as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets' run on big names is not over.
The organization announced early Thursday that they are hiring Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as the team's next head coach.
There have been several candidates linked to the Nets since Kenny Atkinson's firing in March. Tyronn Lue, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, and even Gregg Popovich had been discussed.
Nash's name was never mentioned publicly. Not once.
That appears to have been by design. Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily reported that Brooklyn decided to hire Nash in May. It was also reported that the Nets aggressively pursued the two-time former MVP in recent weeks to convince him to take the job.
While Nash has no coaching experience, he has several ties to the Nets.
General Manager Sean Marks played with Nash for three seasons in Phoenix from 2006 to 2008. Nash also developed a strong relationship with Kevin Durant while working with the Golden State Warriors over the last four years. Nash played a huge role in Durant's signing with Golden State according to Lee Jenkins.
One source within the organization went as far as saying, "Without Steve Nash, I'm not sure if we get Kevin Durant."
Durant and Marks' equal comfort with Nash was likely the main determining factor in the hiring. Both have tremendous respect for his basketball IQ as well as his ability to get along with virtually everyone in the league.
Nash must now forge a positive relationship with Kyrie Irving. On the surface, this appears to be a perfect match, but Irving has had his difficulties with head coaches in the past. Despite this, Irving, a student of the game, should be eager to learn from one of the best to ever play his position.
Nash, 46, is five years out from his playing days and has maintained a desire to coach in the NBA.
“Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn,” Nash said in a prepared statement. “I am as excited about the prospects of the team on the court as I am about moving to Brooklyn with my family and becoming impactful members of this community.”
Nash brings with him a history of managing teams and personalities. At just 6'3" with a small frame, the floor general was always able to maximize his skill set as well as those of the players around him.
His ability to innovate and adapt over time is an important skill in today's ever-evolving game. While Nash recognizes the benefits of the new style of play, he is still a proponent of the mid-range shot (a shot that has been deemed analytically inefficient in recent years) and spoke on the topic on Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball podcast.
"I'm all for taking a lot of threes, but I think those open mid-range shots are what give you better quality threes," Nash said. "So I think that's where the Warriors are great, taking those mid-range shots. They lead the league in those and that makes the whole court something you have to cover."
This goes directly against Brooklyn's former philosophy under Atkinson but bodes well for Durant, Irving and Caris LeVert, all of which can score with great success in the mid-range.
Nash's arrival will remind Nets fans of the 2013 Jason Kidd hiring. Kidd was another Hall of Fame point guard with no coaching experience hired by Brooklyn. The former-Net only lasted one year as the team's coach, but the circumstances are vastly different this time around.
It must be ironic for Kidd to watch Nash, a rival and frequent comparison to himself as a player, lead his former team to a potential championship. Despite this, the Lakers assistant took to Twitter to congratulate Brooklyn's new head coach.
Brooklyn announced they will retain Jacque Vaughn as Nash's lead assistant. Vaughn served as interim head coach through the playoffs and led Brooklyn to a surprising 5-3 record in the bubble
This is an important move as Vaughn has more than 10 years of coaching experience and gained the respect of the players in Brooklyn this season. He will now become the highest-paid assistant in the NBA.
The handful of big names that have made their way to Brooklyn over the last year have made the team a frequent point of discussion. The Nets were already heading into next season with massive expectations.
Nash's hiring adds to that and pushes Brooklyn even further into the spotlight.