Former Knicks Coach Sounds Off on ‘Championship Contender’ Nets Team

Steve Nash and Kevin Durant

Getty Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets high-fives head coach Steve Nash during the second half of the Eastern Conference 2022 Play-In Tournament against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Rick Pitino entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with the class of 2013 as a basketball coach. Pitino coached two NBA teams, the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. As the head coach of the Knicks, Pitino helped lead the team to its first division title in nearly 20 years before resigning in 1989. Pitino’s next stint in the NBA came with the Celtics, where he struggled in the years after Larry Bird left. While Pitino doesn’t have the best track record as a coach in the NBA, he has had well-known success as a college coach, where he has returned as the head coach at Iona University. 

Recently, Pitino spoke about the NBA game and where he sees teams like the Brooklyn Nets, and how they will come back after a season and offseason of drama with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons. Pitino shared his expectations for the franchise in an interview with Adam Zagoria of

Pitino: Nets Are a Championship Contender

Shortly after Kevin Durant rescinded his trade request from the Nets, Pitino spoke with Zagoria about his expectations for the Brooklyn Nets.

“Well, that’s a championship-caliber team,” Pitino said of the Nets during a Zoom call Tuesday in response to a question from NJ Advance Media.

“They’re two of the most explosive offensive basketball players there are in the NBA and if Simmons is healthy, he’s an outstanding play-maker and he’s a great defensive player. So that’s a great team. I don’t know who they have 4-8 but that’s going to be a key component whether than can win a championship.

If you have three great players [in Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons], they’re going to get injured, they’re going to miss some games. You have to make sure that four through eight [on the roster] can play that role because they are going to get hurt and in the case of some of the guys on the Nets, they miss a lot of games. You have to make sure that 4-8 can play and it doesn’t get any better than Kyrie and Kevin Durant,” Pitino said. 

Brooklyn Nets Roster Depth

Pitino made his case for the Nets by arguing talent, which the Nets have a lot of, especially with the return of Ben Simmons. He also noted that depth would be required for the Nets. Depth is one of the biggest places the Nets improved this offseason by adding players like Royce O’Neale, TJ Warren, Edmond Sumner, and re-signing Patty Mills and Nic Claxton. 

If you look at the Nets roster they are two deep and sometimes three deep at multiple positions. At point guard, they have Irving, Mills, and even Cam Thomas who can play extended minutes for them. At shooting guard, they have Seth Curry, Joe Harris, and Sumner. Then forward is stacked with Warren, O’Neale, and Markieff Morris in addition to Durant. At center, they have Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe

They have been said to be looking to add more depth at center and could target anyone from Hassan Whiteside or Dwight Howard. 

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