BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Brooklyn Nets have found their new head coach.
The team on Thursday announced on Twitter that Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash is coming on board as the 23rd head coach in Nets history.
The move, which was first reported by Marc Stein of the New York Times, was later confirmed by ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski added that the Nets were "aggressive" in their pursuit of Nash for their head coaching vacancy, which had been open since March after the team let go of New York native Kenny Atkinson in March.
In a statement, Nets General Manager Sean Marks conveyed his excitement about the move, saying that Nash’s "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."
Nets team owner Joe Tsai echoed Marks’ statements: "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."
According to NetsDaily’s Anthony Puccio, host of "The Brooklyn Way" podcast, the decision to hire Nash was made back in May, before the NBA restart at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Jacque Vaughn, who was elevated to the interim head coaching role after Atkinson’s departure and coached the Nets in the NBA "bubble" at Walt Disney World, will remain with the team as the lead assistant coach. Wojnarowski reported that he will be the league’s highest paid assistant coach.
The move is likely to please Nets star Kevin Durant, who did not play at all during the 2019-20 season while rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals. Nash worked with Durant while the veteran point guard was a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, and Durant called Nash for advice before joining the Golden State Warriors in 2016, according to the Mercury News.
“I asked him about Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and the type of people they are day to day,” Durant said. “Obviously I didn’t know much about that, how they approached their jobs, how they approach working."
“I trust his judgment on stuff. He’s always kept it real with me," Durant said of Nash.
Nash is the most recent former NBA point guard to go directly from retirement to head coach, joining Doc Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr, and Jason Kidd, who coached the Nets during the 2013-14 season.
For those keeping track of the Nets’ percieved championship aspirations, three rookie NBA coaches in the last 5 seasons have won championships in their first year as head coach: Kerr (Golden State Warriors, 2015), Tyronn Lue (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016) and Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors, 2019).
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 Phoenix, and was an eight-time NBA All-Star.
The Nets will officially introduce Nash as their new head coach next Wednesday.