The Nets will have to find a new assistant coach to coordinate their defense now that Ime Udoka is finalizing a deal to become head coach of the Celtics, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Udoka only spent one season with Brooklyn, coming to the team from Philadelphia after the Sixers’ coaching shake-up last offseason, but he quickly earned respect throughout the organization.
Lewis describes Udoka, who spent 10 years as an NBA assistant, mostly in San Antonio, as a “no-nonsense, tough-love” coach who demands the best from his players.
“Ime focuses a lot about defense, because obviously when he played that’s basically what he was, a defender, and he liked to be physical,” Nets guard Mike James said. “Just for me personally, he’s always reminded me to do the little things: sprint back, load up, box out, be physical.
“He’s not like a coach that’ll hold back how he feels. He’s going to tell you how he feels, how you’re playing, what you should be doing better. For somebody like me, obviously that might not be the same what everybody else is doing. But I like coaches to be honest and tell me what they want me to do and it works out.”
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- The Nets may have to replace two more members of Steve Nash‘s staff this summer, Lewis adds. Mike D’Antoni is a candidate for the Trail Blazers’ vacancy, while Jacque Vaughn has been given permission to interview with the Pelicans. “We have incredible coaches, and they all are really worthy of being head coaches, or already have been. … I’m assuming we will have turnover,” Nash said. “I’m assuming some of these guys will get jobs, because they’re that good and would really add a lot to an organization.”
- Brooklyn views Nicolas Claxton as its future starting center, according to Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype. Scotto states that the Nets weren’t willing to move Claxton at the trade deadline unless they got a star in return. He will be eligible for a veteran extension this summer worth up to a projected $55MM+.
- Kevin Durant‘s trip to the Olympics will reunite him with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who will be an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff. Kerr raved about Durant during a radio interview this week, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area, calling him more talented than Michael Jordan and saying his former team was supporting him during the Nets’ playoff run. “You think about what he did for this organization,” Kerr said, “not only helping us win titles but to come back and try to play through injuries and then suffer the devastating Achilles injury, we all just wanted to see Kevin healthy and to see him in the playoffs playing at the level he reached, it was really, really gratifying for all of us.”