The Brooklyn Nets fired Coach Steve Nash on Tuesday, just seven games into the NBA season. The team’s play on the court hadn’t been very good, and there was more trouble off the court.
Nash, who is 48 years old, leaves Brooklyn with a record of 94-67 (.584) and one playoff series win in his two-a-half years there. Jacque Vaughn, who was an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic from 2012 to 2015, will take over as interim coach for Brooklyn’s game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night. Kenny Atkinson, Nash’s former coach, was fired in 2020, and Vaughn filled in as an interim coach at the time.
The Hall of Fame point guard was let go by the Nets on Tuesday, a day after the Nets beat Indiana to improve to 2-5. Kevin Durant said he wanted Nash out of the team this summer, but not much longer than that. The Nets have been a mess again, with a bad play on the court and bad news about the team outside of it.
Irving made the biggest one again. Last week, he posted a link to an anti-Semitic work on his Twitter page, which made Nets owner Joe Tsai upset.
The team’s general manager, Sean Marks, said in a statement, “Since becoming head coach, Steve has had to deal with a number of problems that had never been seen before. We are very grateful for his leadership, patience, and humility during his time here.”
“For me, this was a very hard decision to make. However, after a lot of talking and thinking about how the season has started, we all agreed that a change is needed at this time.”
The Nets may act quickly to find a replacement for Nash. A person who knows about the situation said that the Nets were talking to suspended Boston coach Ime Udoka. Udoka is a former Brooklyn assistant who is not with the Celtics this season because he broke team rules by having a relationship with a female staff member. The person talked to The Associated Press under the condition that they could not be identified because those talks were not made public.
ESPN was the first to report that Udoka and the Nets were in talks. The Nets said that a choice would be made soon about who would be the next coach.
During Nash’s first two full seasons as an NBA coach, the Nets went 92-62 and made the playoffs both times. But Irving and James Harden got hurt during their second-round loss to Milwaukee in 2021. Then, after trading Harden in the middle of the season, they lost in the first round the next year.
Irving missed most of the Nets’ home games in the second half of the season because he refused to get a coronavirus shot, which was required at the time in New York City. This caused a lot of problems for the team.
Nash did his best with everything, but it wasn’t good enough for his best player. Durant said he wanted to be traded this summer if the Nets didn’t fire Marks and Nash, but Tsai stood by them, and Durant eventually changed his mind.
I’m betting Steve Nash is in a celebratory mood today!
— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) November 1, 2022
Before this season started, Nash played it down, saying that he didn’t think the reports were entirely true and that they had quickly worked out their problems.
But things got off to a bad start this season, and after the team’s loss to Indiana on Saturday night, Nash said some of the harshest things he had ever said about the team. He called their defensive effort a “disaster” and said he didn’t see any desire or will. Nash said, “We have to look deep inside ourselves and figure out what we want to do and what we want to achieve.” “Do we want to give up because things have been hard so far, or do we want to keep going and start to build something?”
A lot of that didn’t get much attention because everyone was paying attention to Irving’s angry news conference where he defended his tweet. The Nets beat the Pacers on Monday to end a four-game losing streak. But Nash’s time on the team was over the next day, a day before Brooklyn was to play Chicago. Against the Bulls, Jacque Vaughn will take over as head coach.
In his thank-you note to Nash, Tsai mentioned the constant turmoil around the team. “Over time, my admiration and respect for him grew as he brought hard work and a positive attitude to our organization every day, even when the team was in the middle of a terrible storm,” Tsai said.
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) November 1, 2022
Nash thanked the Tsai family and Marks for giving him the chance, calling the job “an amazing experience with many challenges that I’m very grateful for.”
Nets GM Sean Marks says he has "absolutely not" settled on a replacement for Steve Nash pic.twitter.com/vBeHDRtpBu
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 1, 2022
Marks chose his former teammate Nash to be the coach in 2020, even though Nash had never been a coach before. He did this because, as a player, Nash was good at bringing people together. Nash was the most valuable player twice for the Phoenix Suns, and he finished his 18-year career third on the NBA’s list of most assists with 10,335.
Ime Udoka has emerged as a strong frontrunner to be the next Brooklyn Nets head coach and the sides have begun discussions, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Nets are in the midst of their search process and are continuing to do due diligence.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 1, 2022
But his plans were criticized because the Nets had trouble on defense while he was there and didn’t move the ball as much as his Suns teams did on offense. Instead, they relied on Durant, Irving, or Harden to play alone. Nash also had to get used to new people on his bench, in addition to the new players. Two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni quit as his assistant after one season, and Udoka left to become the Celtics’ coach.
KD says he found out about Steve Nash being fired after waking up from a nap 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 2, 2022
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.