Maybe Kevin Durant was right in the first place? That appears to be the conclusion that the Brooklyn Nets reached on Tuesday afternoon when they formally dismissed Steve Nash from his head coaching duties. The team signed the Hall of Fame point guard to lead it into a new era, but even at the time, he was far from the most established candidate. Now, after a disappointing 2-5 start, Brooklyn seeks a fresh start once more.
Nash is a fantastic basketball mind, but jumping from a part-time consultant with the Golden State Warriors to head coach of a team with such uninhibited stars is a tall task. Much of the offensive style implemented in Brooklyn has been isolation-heavy and overly reliant on star power. The team lacked creativity, and while letting Durant and Kyrie Irving go to work is a recipe for success in stints, that lack of cohesion hasn’t yielded a winning product.
Where do the Brooklyn Nets turn with Steve Nash out of the picture?
Already, rumors are swirling about the Brooklyn Nets acquiring one of the proven coaches who are available, or at least suspected of being available, on the open market. According to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that search begins with suspended head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics and former Utah Jazz mastermind Quin Snyder — two players with ties to Sean Marks by way of the San Antonio Spurs’ extended tree.
Either of these options would make a solid candidate for their blend of player management and implementation of team-oriented styles. It would be difficult to do this on the fly, especially without the luxury of a training camp or pre-season to work on game scenarios. However, the Nets have plenty of time to work on these sorts of styles through the duration of a long regular season ahead.
The next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets needs to find better ways of increasing the quality of shots for this team. That means running off-ball sets and screens to get KD and Kyrie open on the perimeter. More dribble handoffs would help unlock Ben Simmons, forcing him into scenarios where he can find open lanes to the rim while still serving in a playmaking capacity. The team would also vastly benefit from finding unique ways to get the shooters (Joe Harris, Patty Mills and the recovering Seth Curry) better quality looks from deep.
Under Steve Nash, the team didn’t have any identity on defense. Most of the players didn’t appear to be committed on that end of the floor, which begins with lackluster coaching. This next coach needs to rally the troops and get them committed to playing defense in a manner that takes full advantage of Simmons’ unassailable talent as a defensive player.
There’s no doubt that it’s a tall task, and not everyone will be up for it. However, this would be one of the rare situations where a head coach can join a team and immediately contend for a title.