The Brooklyn Nets shocked the basketball world on Thursday by hiring former two-time NBA MVP and Hall of Famer Steve Nash as the organization’s next head coach.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski , Nash will be joining the Nets on a four-year contract.
On the surface, there’s a lot to like about the hire. Nash undoubtedly has one of the best basketball minds of his generation. Moreover, he did serve as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors under head coach Steve Kerr for multiple seasons. While there, he helped the team in its title pursuits, acted as a mentor of sorts for Stephen Curry, and developed a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, with whom he’ll reunite in Brooklyn.
But can we expect him to make a Kerr-like move from the ether to the top spot on the bench of an NBA title contender? It’s a tough ask.
Don’t get me wrong — there are reasons for Nets fans to be excited about the move. The fact that Durant and Nash are already on excellent terms bodes well for the partnership.
The two-time champion and 10-time All-Star spoke glowingly about Nash and his interactions with him in a 2018 piece by The Mercury News , saying:
He’s someone I can talk to about anything and somebody I really respect. His basketball mind is probably the best I’ve been around. He tries to simplify the game and keep me conscious of those things as well. It’s simplifying and keeping it as easy for yourself. I’ve learned so much.
Getting superstar floor general Kyrie Irving to sign off on the Nash hire is no small feat, either, given the mercurial guard’s history of running afoul of, well…just about everybody. The buy-in factor is enormous for an NBA coach, and it looks as though Nash will have that from the jump with his star players.
And there’s no doubting the Xs and Os factor with Nash, who directed some of the best offenses in the history of the league and utilized his innate sense of space, pace, and personnel to lead the league in assists per game on five separate occasions. The time he spent working with Warriors players and observing Kerr’s elite-level coaching staff could pay huge dividends in his transition to the sidelines as well.
Here’s a look at some of Nash’s career highlights:
What happens, though, when the team hits its first rough patch? Or Durant or Irving don’t like a play call or strategic move by Nash? That’s where the Hall of Famer’s lack of head coaching experience could come back to bite him.
Irving couldn’t make it work with Lue or David Blatt in Cleveland, and Brad Stevens was done with him after two years in Boston. Meanwhile, KD famously threw shade at Billy Donovan, his former coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, via a social media burner account.
The Nets already ditched a quality coach in Kenny Atkinson, seemingly at the behest of Irving and Durant. However, Brooklyn GM Sean Marks has denied as much .
In any case, Nash must avoid the pitfall of getting branded as a guy who can’t coach KD and Kyrie. As explained in the video below, coaching these two is no easy feat:
This much is certain: if Nash goes the way of Derek Fisher and Jason Kidd — other former point guards who lacked previous coaching experience and subsequently had issues at the helm — they could end up wasting what remains of their star players’ prime years and killing their championship window.
Nash has a lot working in his favor, just as Kerr did when he inherited a club that already had Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on its roster, but the potential downside for Brooklyn is a big one.