A pair of notable coaches are joining Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn as assistants, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka are finalizing deals with the Nets.
D’Antoni, who parted ways with the Rockets following the team’s elimination from the postseason in September, ranks 20th among head coaches on the NBA’s all-time list of wins. In addition to coaching the Rockets, he has been on the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets, and – most notably – the Suns, where he lead two-time MVP Nash to back-to-back appearances in the Western Finals.
By joining the Nets, D’Antoni will reunite with Nash and provide the sort of veteran experience that the first-time head coach could use on his staff.
As for Udoka, he has never been an NBA head coach, but he has proven his bona fides as an assistant, serving on Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven years before joining the Sixers for the 2019/20 season.
There was a time when it looked like Udoka would receive a shot at a head coaching job this year — he was linked to the Nets, Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, and 76ers jobs, but was passed over in each instance. Now he’ll get the opportunity to work under Nash in Brooklyn, as the Nets – led by a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – look to make a deep playoff run in 2021.
Nash’s staff will also include former Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who was retained as an assistant after missing out on the permanent coaching job. When word broke that the Nets were retaining Vaughn, Wojnarowski reported that he would be the highest-paid assistant in the NBA — it’s not clear if that’s still the case, but it’s probably safe to assume Brooklyn spared no expense bringing in D’Antoni and Udoka.