The firing of former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was a head-scratcher in itself. After all, he was the coach that had led the Nets back to glory and their first postseason berth since the Jason Kidd era during the 2018-19 season. But even more shocking was their decision to hire Steve Nash as his replacement. Nash was an elite player as a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, but as a coach, he had no experience, not even as an assistant. And the Nets had their eyes set on winning the title and needed a coach who could help take them there.
Multiple reports suggested that Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had hand-picked Nash to be their next head coach as they were trying to usher in a new era in Brooklyn. But NBA insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports says that neither star wanted Nash as the head coach of the Nets.
“Kevin Durant’s desire to have Steve Nash is false,” Scoop B said on Spotify Live on July 19. “The person Kevin Durant wanted as the coach of the Brooklyn Nets was Ty Lue. Kyrie Irving wanted Phil Handy. The Nets hired Steve Nash instead.”
The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!
Analyst Says Nets Have ‘Zero Respect’ for Steve Nash
In his first two seasons as head coach of the Nets, Nash has failed to get a team led by two future Hall of Famers past the second round. Sure there have been outside factors such as trades, injuries, and vaccination statuses. But the fact remains that the opportunity to win has been there for the Nets, and they just have not been able to get it done with Nash at the helm. Former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins doesn’t believe that Nash is the right coach for Brooklyn.
“When I look at the way the Brooklyn Nets play, they have zero respect for Steve Nash, meaning, staying disciplined in their principles. Getting back in transition. To me, Steve Nash…. Listen, he’s a great individual. Great person. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and he is not the right person for this job,” Perkins said on ESPN’s “NBA Today” in April following the Nets elimination.
“You need someone in that seat that those players – especially Kyrie Irving, because he’s not going anywhere – is going to respect and listen to. Steve Nash did not show me anything in this series. I didn’t expect him to win it, I didn’t expect any of that. But not to win one game? One game?! That’s harsh.”
Nash Has Faced a Lot as Nets Head Coach
Nash has had to deal with a lot since he arrived in Brooklyn. For starters in his first two months as head coach, the roster was completely gutted, to bring All-Star James Harden to the Nets.
Then came the injuries. After shifting the roster to bring Harden to Brooklyn, Kyrie, Durant, and the aforementioned Harden all suffered injuries during the same playoff run which led to them being eliminated in the second round by the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Then, not even a full season removed from the trade that brought him to Brooklyn, Harden demanded a trade and was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons who did not play last season because of a back injury that ultimately required offseason surgery.
This all happened in two seasons. It’s possible that Nash may not be the right head coach for the Nets. But he at least deserves a chance to compete with all the right pieces in place. Scheduled to have a full slate of players next season, he has a chance to prove all of his critics wrong.