The initial reaction to the hiring of Steve Nash by the Brooklyn Nets was coated with the assumption that this must have been the preference of superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. In an interview shortly after the hire was announced, Nets general manager Sean Marks told Adrian Wojnarowski how conversations with the two stars informed his decision to move on from interim coach Jacque Vaughn and hire Nash.
While Vaughn got more out of the Nets than was expected in the Bubble this summer, he, at the end of the day, was an unknown commodity in terms of managing two of the NBA’s biggest stars and personalities. That’s why reporting in recent weeks centered around candidates such as Ty Lue and even Gregg Popovich, two championship head coaches who would have brought instant credibility to the team.
But in the end, it appears the sway of Irving and Durant led the Nets to Nash.
“Spending a year with Kevin and Ky for the most part sidelined, it allowed me to strike up a relationship and a rapport with these guys,” Marks told Wojnarowski. “We had a lot of conversations, whether that was watching practice or postgame or over the summer here and leading into these playoffs, as to what we should be looking for (in a head coach), what we need.
“Both expressed (they wanted) high character, they wanted a great communicator, and they wanted somebody who they would respect. I think we hit the nail on the head with a hire like Steve.”
Full audio of Sean Marks on The Woj Pod: https://t.co/PR7asWoZor pic.twitter.com/X2ek10acvr
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 3, 2020
Still, Nash is an unproven commodity in the head coaching ranks. He has never even held an official coaching position on an NBA team, only served as an advisor for the Warriors, where he developed a relationship with Durant. As a way to hedge their bet on Nash, the Nets will reportedly make Vaughn the most highly paid assistant coach in the NBA, and he will likely be near the top of other young teams’ lists as well.
The question remains, though, why if Vaughn was good enough to stay on the Nets’ staff and be valuable to the organization, he wasn’t then well-regarded enough among Brooklyn’s players and executives to keep his job.
Asked about this decision, Marks called it “extremely important” to keep Vaughn and said he “loved the continuity” it created. Marks also stated that Nash himself wanted to keep Vaughn on the staff for that very reason. As with Irving and Durant’s initial decision to come to Brooklyn, Nash’s hire came as a big surprise, and it will be hard to measure the success of the hire for some time.