With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving due back from injuries and the Nets mulling additional roster upgrades this offseason, new head coach Steve Nash told season ticket holders during a virtual town hall on Tuesday that he’s embracing the club’s rising expectations for the 2020/21 season.
“We’re playing for a championship,” Nash said, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I don’t want to say that anything less than a championship is not a success because you never know what happens in life, you never know the way the ball bounces. Fortune is a big part of winning an NBA championship.
“But we are playing for a championship and we’re going to build accordingly. We’re going to frame everything we do in the lens of, ‘Is this a championship characteristic or is this worth championship quality?'”
Although the Nets posted a 35-37 record and were quickly swept out of the first round of the postseason in 2019/20, oddsmakers and sports bettors are bullish about the team’s outlook with Durant and Irving in the lineup. BetOnline.ag currently lists Brooklyn in a tie with Boston as the second-most likely team to come out of the East in 2021, just behind Milwaukee.
Still, it remains to be seen how Durant will look coming off his torn Achilles, and there are some questions about how the roster will mesh when everyone’s healthy, as well as Nash’s ability to steer the ship as a rookie head coach. Those questions were only exacerbated when Irving – addressing Nash’s hiring on a recent episode of Durant’s podcast – suggested that he doesn’t “really see us having a head coach.”
However, discussing his coaching plan during today’s town hall, Nash went out of his way to echo Irving’s language about collaboration, according to Bontemps.
“I definitely don’t want to come in with too many hard and fast concepts and designs,” Nash said. “I’d much rather come in with principles — with ideas that allow our players to collaborate with us and allow their personalities and the dynamic between them and the chemistry to have a role in how it evolves.
“People talk about the Phoenix teams I played on, and this sort of revolutionary tone of how it impacted the game, but the truth be told, Mike D’Antoni‘s brilliance in much of that was he allowed it to evolve instead of getting in the way.”