The Brooklyn Nets have named Steve Nash as the 23rd head coach in the franchise’s NBA history. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Nash has signed a four-year deal in what will be his first jaunt into coaching an NBA team full-time.
Nash joins the Nets following five seasons as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, where he contributed to two championship teams and made four consecutive trips to The Finals.
Per Wojnarowski, Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks had been aggressive in recruiting Nash to make the move to coaching. In Brooklyn, Nash will be leading a Nets team filled with talented scorers, including former Kia MVP and Finals MVP Kevin Durant and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
In recent weeks, Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks have been aggressive in recruiting Nash to make the leap that he had so far resisted in his retirement: head coaching.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 3, 2020
That made the Nets vacancy an attractive position, and Marks said he met with a number of highly accomplished candidates. There was even speculation the Nets would try to entice Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, for whom Marks played and then worked under in San Antonio.
Instead, Marks turned to one of his former teammates.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Marks said in a statement released by the Nets. “In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players. I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years.
"One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His instincts for the game, combined with an inherent ability to communicate with and unite players towards a common goal, will prepare us to compete at the highest levels of the league. We are excited to welcome Steve, Lilla, Lola, Bella, Matteo, Luca and Ruby to Brooklyn.”
In addition, the team announced that Jacque Vaughn will return to Brooklyn as lead assistant coach. One of Nash's former teammates, future Hall of Famer and Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, was reportedly someone Nash wanted to add to his coaching staff. Per Marc Stein of The New York Times, Nowitzki is not looking to return to the NBA so soon after retiring following the 2018-19 season and declined the offer.
“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe and his wife, Clara, for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward,” Nash said. “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. 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.”
The Nets reached the postseason despite having Irving for only 20 games and Durant for none, but the two stars who came to Brooklyn together last summer are expected to be ready for the 2020-21 season.
Vaughn finished out the season as coach and did as well as anyone could have expected, leading the Nets to a 5-3 record in the NBA’s restart in Florida before they were swept by the Toronto Raptors. He started 2-0 after replacing Kenny Atkinson in March, including a victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, and picked up victories over the powerful Bucks and Clippers at Walt Disney World.
An eight-time NBA All-Star, Nash played 18 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Suns, becoming just the 10th player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive seasons. Nash was named to All-NBA teams seven times throughout his career, earning first-team honors three times (2005-07), while twice being named to the second (2008, 2010) and third teams (2002, 2003).
A five-time assist champion, Nash currently ranks third in NBA history with 10,335 career assists. The culmination of his brilliant playing career came in 2018 when Nash was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Nets family and look forward to a successful and meaningful partnership,” Tsai said in a statement released by the team. “Steve shares our vision for the future of this franchise and his character exemplifies the core principles of our organization in working to serve our communities. I can’t wait for Steve to get started.”
Having grown up in Victoria, British Columbia, Nash is one of the most accomplished figures in Canadian basketball history. He was a member of Team Canada from 1993-2004 and served as general manager for the senior national team from 2012-19. Nash played collegiately for four seasons at Santa Clara University prior to being selected 15th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.