Steve Nash

New York Notes: Durant, Sexton, Williams, Nash

Kevin Durant and the Nets’ other stars can pursue extensions this summer. Durant is taking a diplomatic approach to questions regarding that possibility, Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.com relays. “First of all, you enjoy playing the game. That’s the most important thing and I think we all three enjoy playing with each other … I’m sure when that time is right, we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves,” Durant said.

We have more tidbits regarding the New York City teams:

  • Trading for Cavaliers high scoring guard Collin Sexton could be a buyer-beware situation for the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sexton has a stubborn streak that can turn off his teammates, according to a Berman source, and he might ultimately be more suited to a sixth-man, Lou Williams-style role rather than a No. 1 option at the point.
  • The Knicks could pursue Stanford wing Ziaire Williams in the draft, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Williams worked out for the Knicks and felt very good about his experience. However, Williams may go much higher than the No. 19 pick, the Knicks’ highest selection. He’s even been rumored to go to the Magic in the top 10.
  • Steve Nash issued a statement, Marc Stein of Substack tweets, regarding Mike D’Antoni‘s decision to step down from his post as a Nets assistant which read in part, “I will be forever grateful of his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together.”

Pacific Notes: S. Barnes, C. Thomas, Hield, Williams

Versatile Florida State point forward Scottie Barnes possesses some of the same qualities that make Warriors veteran Draymond Green such a valuable teammate, writes Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area. Barnes also is an unselfish player who prioritizes defense and winning over personal statistics, and could be an intriguing successor to Green if he falls to Golden State’s No. 7 pick in the upcoming 2021 draft.

Though Barnes was a below-average jump shooter in college, Andrews notes that his Green-esque impact could offset his modest scoring contributions. In his lone season for FSU, the 6’9″ Barnes averaged 10.3 PPG, 4.1 APG and 4.0 RPG, with a shooting line of .503/.275/.621.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • LSU guard Cameron Thomas is scheduled to work out for the Warriors this Wednesday, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. The 6’4″ guard averaged 23.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 1.4 APG during the 2020/21 NCAA season. He posted a shooting line of .406/.325/.882.
  • Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield faces a potentially tenuous future with the club, as he touched on in a podcast interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes“I see my name in trade rumors, but I can’t control all that,” Hield said. “My job is to go out there and play basketball and everybody’s goal is to get to the playoffs and win a championship.” The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006. Hield has two years left on the four-year, $86MM contract extension he signed with Sacramento during the 2019 offseason.
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams notes that Nets head coach Steve Nash, a former two-time MVP while a point guard for Phoenix, reached out to him over text during the playoffs, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. “It spoke to me about how those guys feel about the Suns and the fanbase,” Williams said.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Raptors, Knicks, Faried, Chiozza

Though the Nets certainly wouldn’t mind being the top seed in the Eastern Conference, what matters most to them is player health, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets are currently the second seed in the East with a 37-18 record, one game behind the 38-17 Sixers and 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks.

All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have appeared sparingly together as each player has missed time due to various injuries and personal reasons.

“Health is everything,” head coach Steve Nash noted. “It’d be great to have the No. 1 seed — I think it means a lot, it’s valuable — but not at the expense of losing players or prolonging our injury situation.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca wonders about the recent past and current trajectory for the Raptors if Toronto had never traded franchise stalwart DeMar DeRozan for 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who departed for the Clippers in free agency after leading the Raptors to a title during his lone season in Canada.
  • With injured center John Henson not expected to be re-signed to a second 10-day contract, the Knicks are considering other veteran big men for the newly-opened roster spot, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman reports that one option on New York’s radar is 31-year-old power forward Kenneth Faried, who most recently suited up for the Zhejiang Lions of the CBA in 2019.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash appreciates that the team has had to adjust creatively to various absences. “We may not get any games with our whole roster,” Nash conceded, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I don’t want to worry about or be concerned about things that are out of our control.” The club has employed 29 different starting lineups this season. Nash also acknowledged that, following a surgery on a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, two-way Brooklyn point guard Chris Chiozza will be unavailable “basically for the regular season.”

New York Notes: Claxton, Ntilikina, Buyouts, Nash

Nicolas Claxton is providing a new element to the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In his second game after recovering from a string of injuries, Claxton delivered 10 points,  four steals, three rebounds, and a block in 15 minutes against Orlando Thursday. He fills a role as an athletic, energetic big man.

“He’s somebody we believe in and think he’s got a lot of upside, continue to grow and just take it step-by-step,” Nets coach Steve Nash said  of Claxton.

We have more news on the New York City teams:

  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina looked surprisingly spry in his first appearance in nearly two months on Thursday, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ntilikina had been buried on the bench, along with rehabbing a sprained knee and, more recently, being quarantined under COVID-19 contact tracing. Ntilikina received 17 minutes of action against Sacramento and delivered seven points, three steals and two assists in 23 minutes. “His defense was fantastic,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. Ntilikina is likely to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Nash indicated the Nets will be active shoppers in the buyout market, Lewis tweets. A capped-out team, the Nets have been shuttling bodies in and out on non-guaranteed and 10-day contracts in order to fulfill NBA roster requirements. Brooklyn will likely seek to add depth at center.
  • Nash has gotten tougher on his team and that approach has helped the Nets reel off eight straight victories, Lewis writes in a separate piece. The coaching staff has doled out more constructive criticism and held players accountable for lapses. “I don’t know if we’re coaching them any harder, but we’re definitely trying to cut to the chase and make sure we are pointing out and improving and addressing issues,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Smith Jr., Irving, Boucher, Mensah-Bonsu

Dennis Smith Jr. has done nothing to boost his trade value during the Knicks’ first two preseason games, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Though new coach Tom Thibodeau praised Smith last week, the guard hasn’t produced on the court. Smith, who could be a restricted or unrestricted free agent next offseason, logged 37 minutes and shot just 33% from the field. He also looked out of sorts when the Pistons trapped him on Sunday while posting a minus-15 in 16 minutes, Berman adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard Kyrie Irving finally complied with league rules and met virtually with the media on Monday, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. Irving had called the media “pawns” in an Instagram post and was fined by the league for refusing to speak to journalists prior to Monday. Irving made a point of praising coach Steve Nash, after previously making a comment that was construed as a knock on Nash when Irving said on a podcast he didn’t see the team “as having a head coach.” “Steve’s been amazing,” Irving said. “He kind of commands the respect. I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago.”
  • Chris Boucher will have an expanded role with the Raptors this season now that Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are gone, and he plans to do the dirty work, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. The big man re-signed with the club on a two-year, $13.5MM deal as a restricted free agent.  “You’ve got to come in the game, play defense, block shots, rebound, make the good reads,” Boucher said. “I think I was a little trigger happy before … We’ve got good shooters with me when I’m playing now, so I don’t really need to be taking those shots.”
  • The Knicks are planning to hire Pops Mensah-Bonsu as president and director of their G League operations, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov and Shams Charania tweetMensah-Bonsu was the GM of the Wizards’ Capital City Go-Go G League team last season after a stint as a Spurs scout.

Nets Notes: Nash, D’Antoni, Udoka

Newly-hired Nets coach Steve Nash discussed a number of topics related to the upcoming season with Steve Serby of the New York Post, including the pressure he could face as a first-year head coach, the team’s championship aspirations and more.

Nash doesn’t hold any prior coaching experience, though he’s set to bring in coaches such as Jacque Vaughn (lead assistant), Mike D’Antoni (longtime NBA head coach) and Ime Udoka (veteran NBA assistant) for his first season. The team also hired Nash’s former teammate, Amar’e Stoudemire, as a player development assistant last month.

“Not championship or bust, but we’re playing for a championship, that’s our goal,” Nash said when asked if he’s approaching this season with a championship or bust mentality. “I think it’s silly, the championship or bust, you never know. You have to have health, you have to have luck to win a championship. It’s not as simple as one plus one equals two, but we are playing for a championship. We are saying that out loud. That’s how we’re going to frame all the decisions we make and the effort and intensity that we train and play with.”

The 46-year-old also touched on subjects such as Kyrie Irving, his own playing days, the 2000 Olympics, and more. When asked what it would mean to win a championship as a rookie coach after never winning one as a player, Nash gave a humble response.

“It would mean everything to me, but honestly, it’s not about me,” he said. “I would be thrilled for our group, for the players, for the coaches. … Honestly, I would get as much joy, more joy, out of seeing our players, coaching staff, all departments win than the feeling I would get about me being a winner. To me, I love being a part of a group, part of a team, and seeing other people happy and succeed is as rewarding as anything and more rewarding than the individual glory. It would be unbelievable just to be a part of that, but to see everyone else’s satisfaction would mean the world to me.”

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • By hiring Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach, the team is putting a clear emphasis on its offense for next season, Greg Logan of Newsday writes. D’Antoni, the architect of the well-documented “seven seconds or less” offense from his Suns teams in the mid 2000’s, will help coach a team that already includes the likes of Irving and Kevin Durant — two of the best offensive players of the past decade and beyond.
  • Ime Udoka could prove to be a key hire for the franchise, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic opines. The defensive-minded Udoka holds several years of coaching experience and was an assistant under Gregg Popovich from 2012-19.
  • Sports Illustrated examines whether the Nets are the NBA’s most interesting team. The franchise includes a unique nucleus of Durant, Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVertDeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen and others, combined with a coaching staff that holds past ties to each other or to general manager Sean Marks.

Steve Nash Embraces Nets’ Championship Expectations

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.”

Amar’e Stoudemire To Join Nets As Assistant Coach

Nets head coach Steve Nash is adding a very familiar face to his bench. Nash’s longtime Suns running mate Amar’e Stoudemire will serve as an assistant coach on his former point guard’s staff, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium tweets.

Stoudemire, a hyper-athletic power forward, and Nash overlapped for six seasons in Phoenix, where they led the trailblazing offensive attack of the famous “Seven Seconds Or Less” Suns, the subject of a fascinating Jack McCallum behind-the-scenes book.

Charania adds in a separate tweet that Stoudemire will specialize in player development while in Brooklyn. Assuming All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can remain healthy, the Nets look to be a formidable force in the East during the 2020/21 season.

Stoudemire joins former Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn on the bench. Assistant Adam Harrington appears likely to remain with the club for this new regime. Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Stoudemire on the Suns from 2003-08 (and both Stoudemire and Nash from 2004-08), has been floated as a potential addition to Nash’s staff as well.

A six-time All-Star with the Suns and Knicks, Stoudemire most recently played for Israeli basketball club Maccabi Tel Aviv. He led the team to a 2020 title while winning the Israeli League Finals MVP award in the process in July.

Stoudemire last suited up in the NBA with the Heat for the 2015/16 season. He signed a contract with the Knicks after his stint in Miami was over to officially retire with New York. Since last playing in the NBA, Stoudemire also logged time in the CBA and in two separate stints for another Israeli basketball team, Hapoel Jerusalem.

Atlantic Notes: Nowitzki, Kanter, Irving, Durant

New Nets coach Steve Nash reached out to former teammate Dirk Nowitzki but the Hall of Fame-bound big man has no desire to be an assistant coach at the moment, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. Nowitzki is content to spend time with his family in Dallas. “First of all, I don’t know if I could do it (coach) anywhere but here,” he said. “That’s of course first. Second, I just think the timing is not right. I love being with the family. I’m so over basketball at this point that it wasn’t even a thought for me.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s generally assumed that Celtics center Enes Kanter, who played sparingly during the postseason, will exercise his $5MM player option for next season. That’s not necessarily the case, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. It’s more likely that Kanter will test the market and seek a backup role elsewhere, Weiss says. Even if he opts in, the Celtics may use his salary for a draft-night trade, Weiss adds.
  • Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough doesn’t think Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were trying to undermine Nash when they talked about “collaborative coaching” on Durant’s podcast earlier this month, Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays. Speaking on The Putback, McDonough felt the star Nets duo was speaking more of the team’s leadership. “It wasn’t a critical comment toward Steve Nash like, ‘Hey, he’s not ready for this.’ It was more, ‘We have a lot of player leadership on the roster,’” he said.
  • The Knicks might shop all their picks on draft night. Get the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Celtics, Watson, Nets

New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will have to carefully navigate the workload of injury-prone All-Star center Joel Embiid, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Rivers signed a five-year contract with the club last week.

Load management became a crucial tool for Rivers this past season with the Clippers, as he strove to tacitly limit the minutes and games played by stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George so that the forwards could be healthy for the playoffs. He discussed his approach with the Sixers in a Zoom call with reporters on Monday. “Load management is so individual-based,” Rivers said. “Every team has to deal with it, and we’ll have to deal with it here, and we’ll probably figure it out.”

There’s more out of the NBA’s Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics enjoyed a relatively successful 2019/20 season, as free agent addition Kemba Walker joined rising star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to take Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals. John Hollinger of The Athletic examines the upcoming roster and luxury tax challenges confronting team president Danny Ainge in the 2020 offseason. The team could be in line for a $23MM luxury tax penalty with its extant on-court personnel, even before making any offseason additions.
  • Raptors shooting guard Paul Watson, currently on a two-way contract, could be the next development success story for team president Masai Ujiri and the Toronto front office, according to Alex Nino Gheciu and Alex Narvaez of Complex.“He’s gonna be part of our future from what I can see so far,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the 25-year-old.
  • NetsDaily.com takes a look at the potential assistant coaches who could be joining newly-minted Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash on the sidelines. The team currently has five assistant coaches from interim head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s 2019/20 staff, including Vaughn himself. Hornets lead assistant coach Jay Triano, G League executive Rod Strickland, Lakers assistant Phil Handy, and Thunder assistant Brian Keefe could all be in the mix.