In shocking twist, Brooklyn Nets hire Steve Nash as coach

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In a move that caught the entire NBA off guard, the Brooklyn Nets have hired Steve Nash as their new head coach.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant got their Hall of Famer head coach – it’s not that wine connoisseur from San Antonio who had been rumored. But, it is someone both players know and respect.

This is a move driven by GM Sean Marks and Nets owner Joesph Tsai — they recruited him hard, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players.  I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His 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.”

The Nets will keep their previous head coach, Jacque Vaughn, on as the lead assistant (and the highest-paid assistant coach in league history). The Nets had wanted to keep him in the organization.

“We are thrilled to retain Jacque as a leading member of our coaching staff,” Marks said. “Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization. His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable.”

Nash is a flashy, big-name hire that will sell well in New York.

Nash is a Hall of Fame player but with zero coaching experience — and he leapfrogged experienced coaches who paid their dues to take over a team that expects to contend for a title. After retiring from playing, Nash has spent a couple of seasons as a consultant, working with Golden State Warriors players, and earning praise in that role.

But that is a long way from being a head coach. The leap to being an NBA head coach without coahing experienced has worked for some — Doc Rivers for one — but has failed miserably for many more (Magic Johnson, Derek Fisher).

What Nash has — what he had to have for this to work — is the backing of Durant and Irving. He got it, according to Mark Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

Gregg Popovich’s name had come up in the search, at the request of Durant, but it was a longshot he would ever leave San Antonio. Tyronn Lue now becomes a clear frontrunner in Philadelphia for that head coaching job.