Nets Notes: Nash, Simmons, Irving, Durant, Offseason

Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote on Monday that Steve Nash will likely keep the Nets‘ head coaching job despite a disappointing season, as long as he retains the confidence of star forward Kevin Durant and team owner Joe Tsai. Durant expressed his support for Nash following Monday’s loss and there’s no indication that Tsai is considering a change.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, if a coaching change does occur in Brooklyn, it seems more likely to happen because Nash steps away from the job, not because he’s fired. There has been speculation about the possibility in league circles, says Fischer, since the former NBA MVP has had to deal with more drama and adversity than expected since taking over the position in 2020.

However, sources tell Fischer that Nash is acting as if he plans to remain in Brooklyn going forward, and he that was the message he conveyed when speaking to reporters on Monday after the Nets’ season ended.

“I loved doing this and love these guys, love my staff, love all the departments. Really have a great working environment, really enjoyed it and want to continue doing it,” Nash said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ben Simmons and Joe Harris will give us a big lift and we’ll see how the rest of the roster rounds out, but we should be excited by that. Getting two of your top four guys back — two guys with size, one who’s an All-Star and one who’s one of the best shooters in the league — that gives us a big boost.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Fischer’s latest story for Bleacher Report includes a closer look at the Ben Simmons situation, with sources telling Fischer that people around Simmons had wanted him to make his Nets debut this spring to establish more of a connection with his new teammates. Nets staffers are hoping he’ll spend plenty of time this summer around the team’s practice facility, rather than “enjoying a celebrity vacation mindset,” Fischer adds.
  • According to Fischer, there has already been some speculation around the league about whether the Nets would consider trading Simmons this offseason, but that scenario appears unlikely. “Brooklyn just has to play it out a little bit. You don’t really have a choice,” a rival general manager told Bleacher Report. “I just don’t think (Simmons) has any real trade value. He hasn’t been accountable for two franchises. He hasn’t played an entire season due to a back injury. How can you do a trade with the chance he reports and then says he can’t play because of the back again?”
  • Kyrie Irving admitted on Monday that his inability to play for much of the season due to his vaccination status was a “distraction at times” for the Nets, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. “I felt like I was letting the team down at a point where I wasn’t able to play,” Irving said. “We were trying to exercise every option for me to play, but I never wanted it to just be about me.” The star point guard remains optimistic about the future in Brooklyn: “We lost a franchise player (James Harden) and we got a franchise player back (Simmons). But we didn’t get a chance to see him on the floor. There was no pressure for (Simmons) to step on the floor with us either. Ben’s good. We have Ben, we have his back. He’s going to be good for next year. But now we just turn the page and look forward to what we’re building as a franchise and really get tougher.”
  • Speaking to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Kevin Durant admitted that he was frustrated by Irving’s vaccine-related absences this season and wished Harden’s situation had played out differently, but said his bond with Irving remains strong and he wasn’t mad at Harden. Durant also pushed back against the notion that franchise players like him and LeBron James dictate roster moves for their respective teams. “I feel like that’s a narrative that (the media created). I don’t even think LeBron does that,” Durant told Goodwill. “He might have input or know some information. But him saying, ‘This is who you should get, that’s who you should get,’ I don’t think it works like that.”
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN takes a look back at what went wrong for the Nets in 2021/22, explaining why the franchise must take responsibility for several of its setbacks, which weren’t just the result of bad luck.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype preview the upcoming offseason in Brooklyn, with a focus on Kyrie Irving’s free agency, while Alex Schiffer of The Athletic lays out 10 important questions for the organization to answer this summer.
  • In case you missed it, we also passed along several Nets notes on Monday night.
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