Steve Nash

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.

Nets Notes: Irving, Brown, Simmons, Draft Picks, Durant, Nash

After the Nets got swept out of the playoffs by the Celtics on Monday night, Kyrie Irving said he plans on remaining in Brooklyn. Irving can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $36.9MM option. Whether he opts in or negotiates a new free agent contract, Irving doesn’t see himself playing elsewhere, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.

“In terms of my extension, man, I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” he said. “So this is just added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years.”

Irving made an eyebrow-raising comment that he and Kevin Durant will essentially work in tandem with owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks to improve the team, Scott Cacciola of the New York Times tweets.

“When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Swingman Bruce Brown is heading toward unrestricted free agency and was noncommittal about his plans, Lewis tweets. The Nets hold his Bird rights. “The season just ended; I’m not thinking about it,” Brown said. “If there’s a chance to stay, we’ll talk about it. But we’ll see.”
  • Ben Simmons wasn’t even at the arena when the Nets’ season ended. After promising reports that he’d make his team debut on Monday, Simmons didn’t play due to “physical and mental issues.” He wasn’t in the building due to his back ailment, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • Some league executives are skeptical of Simmons’ mental health claims, according to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “To me, that’s the only untouchable excuse that they could have to get his money back (from the Sixers),” a source told Bulpett. There’s also skepticism that any head coach can get through to him. “He’s been enabled his entire life. He’s very aloof,” the source told Bulpett. “He’s a great player, but it’s all the extra stuff that no one’s held him accountable for, that’s just made it difficult.”
  • The Nets hold the Sixers’ 2022 and 2027 first-round picks and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski believes there’s a good chance they’ll move them to upgrade the roster, NetsDaily.com relays. “Ultimately, they may never use a player from those draft picks. They’re going to be trade assets,” he said.
  • Durant said coach Steve Nash remains the right man for the job, Lewis tweets. “Steve has been dealt a crazy hand the last two years, he’s been having to deal with so much stuff as a head coach for the first time, COVID, trades,” Durant said. “I’m proud of his passion for us.”

Stein’s Latest: Nash, Hornets, Pacers, Wall, Turner, Mavs

The Nets‘ season could be over in a matter of hours, as the team faces an elimination game at home on Monday night, down 3-0 to Boston in its first-round series.

While a first-round sweep would be a disastrous outcome for a club that entered the season as a championship favorite and would certainly increase scrutiny on head coach Steve Nash, one source close to the situation tells Substack writer Marc Stein that he doesn’t expect Nash to become a fall guy for a disappointing playoff run.

As Stein and his source observe, Nash has faced an inordinate number of challenges during the 2021/22 season, including Kyrie Irving‘s vaccination decision, James Harden‘s trade request, and injuries to players like Kevin Durant and Joe Harris. Stein suggests that Nash shouldn’t avoid blame for the Nets’ struggles, but says there are many larger issues in play as well.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • A concern about player discipline both on and off the court was among the factors in the Hornets‘ decision to part ways with head coach James Borrego, league sources tell Stein.
  • The Pacers expressed some interest in Rockets guard John Wall early in the 2021/22 season, but it didn’t go anywhere and it happened before they acquired Tyrese Haliburton, according to Stein. In other words, Indiana is probably an unlikely offseason suitor for Wall.
  • After seriously considering trading Myles Turner during the ’21/22 season, the Pacers now hope to keep the big man long-term, sources tell Stein. Turner will be extension-eligible this offseason as he enters a contract year.
  • While some Jazz staffers were reportedly upset about seeing Knicks executive William Wesley and Julius Randle courtside at Game 1 of their series vs. Dallas, the Mavericks weren’t particularly bothered by it, since it “didn’t really change anything” in their view, Stein writes. The Knicks are believed to have interest in Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Mavs guard Jalen Brunson, and Dallas is aware of New York’s interest in Brunson. Of course, Brunson is an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Mitchell is under team control for at least three more years.
  • Some teams have asked the NBA to consider making qualification for the play-in tournament contingent on the Nos. 9 and 10 teams finishing within a certain distance of the No. 8 seed, says Stein. It’s unclear whether the league will tweak that rule going forward or leave the format as is.

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, Nash, Brown

Kevin Durant was left searching for answers after another frustrating offensive performance Saturday left the Nets in a 3-0 playoff hole, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant, who is shooting 19-of-52 against the Celtics’ relentless defense, thought he might have overcompensated to Boston’s focus on him. He handed out eight assists, but only took 11 shots and finished with 16 points.

“I feel like the first two games I was trying to be too aggressive,” Durant said. “A team that’s loading up on me, that’s trying to take me out of all my actions. I felt like I was still trying to force the first two games and watching film, a lot of my teammates were open and they were knocking down shots, so I felt my approach to this game was to play off of everybody — get in the flow of the offense and let the ball move and find me.”

The Celtics have taken a physical approach with Durant and are using multiple defenders to keep him off balance. He played at an MVP level in March and April, averaging 30 points per night to help Brooklyn climb into the seventh seed, but has been limited to 22 PPG in the first three games of the series. Now he faces a monumental task just to get the Nets out of the first round.

“Man, we know what it is,” Durant said. “I don’t think no speech or anything will do it at this part of the year. You know what it is — we down 3-0. … On Monday, we’ll come out and play.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The chaos that surrounded the Nets all season might be catching up with them, suggests Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Between Kyrie Irving‘s long absence due to the vaccine mandate, the James Harden trade that shook up the roster at midseason and Durant’s injury, Brooklyn had little chance to develop into a cohesive unit. “We’re all trying to jell and usually you’re jelling around the right time,” Irving said. “And that team in the other locker room is jelling at the right time, been jelling since Christmas. We’re just in a new experience as a group, and we have to respect that.”
  • Steve Nash has been badly outcoached by Ime Udoka, argues Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Mannix notes that the Nets’ offense features constant isolations with very little movement, and when they do force switches the Celtics are able to adapt quickly. He also questions whether Nash will return next season if things don’t turn around quickly.
  • One bright spot for Brooklyn has been Bruce Brown, who led the team in scoring Saturday with 26 points. He took the rare gamble during the offseason of accepting a $4.7MM qualifying offer and now is in position to cash in as an unrestricted free agent, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Nets own his Bird rights and can go over the cap to keep him.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Durant, Nash, Irving, Harden, Tsai

As we relayed on Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during a TV appearance that Ben Simmons is aiming to return between Games 4 and 6 of the Nets‘ first-round series vs. the Celtics — Shams Charania of The Athletic later echoed that report (via Twitter).

However, despite the apparent optimism about Simmons’ playoff availability, Nets forward Kevin Durant isn’t counting on the three-time All-Star to play in the Boston series, telling reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t want to put any extra expectations on his new teammate.

“No, I’m not expecting him to play,” Durant said, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “That’s easier for me. I’m not putting any pressure on Ben to come out and hoop. I’m not expecting him to do anything except get his body right and get healthy as fast as he can. I’m preparing as if we’re playing with the team we have.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although the Nets’ 44-38 record this season fell fall short of their preseason projections, head coach Steve Nash shouldn’t shoulder the blame for the fact that the team ended up outside of the East’s top six, according to Durant. “I think he’s done a great job. The last two years, he’s been dealt a wild hand,” Durant said of Nash, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “Injuries, trades, disgruntled players, guys in and out of the lineup, stuff that he can’t control. … This is his first real opportunity as a coach, so I think he’s handled it all perfectly to be honest with you.”
  • Since arriving in Brooklyn in 2019, Kyrie Irving has appeared in just 103 of 226 total regular season games due to injuries, sabbaticals, and his vaccine-related ineligibility. Ahead of Irving’s potential free agency, the 2022 playoffs will go a long way toward determining whether the mercurial guard has been worth the trouble for the Nets, argues Ian O’Connor of The New York Post.
  • Speaking to Zion Olojede of Complex.com, former Net guard James Harden said there were “a lot of ups and downs” during his time in Brooklyn leading up his trade to Philadelphia. “I think my happiness is the most important thing, so I had to make the best decision for myself and for my family,” Harden said.
  • In an interesting report for ESPN.com, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru take a deep dive into Joe Tsai‘s business ties to – and occasional defenses of – the Chinese government and explore how the Nets owner has become the face of the NBA’s uneasy relationship with China.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Nash, Barrett, Siakam, Knicks

Nets superstar Kevin Durant praised head coach Steve Nash for the job he’s been doing in his second season, as Chris Milholen of NetsDaily relays. Nash, hired in 2020, has pushed through a tumultuous season, which has included Durant missing time due to injury, Kyrie Irving‘s part-time availability and James Harden‘s trade request.

“I think he’s done a great job. The last two years, he’s been dealt a wild hand: injuries, trades, disgruntled players, guys in and out of the lineup, and stuff that he can’t control,” said Durant, his “disgruntled” player comment apparently referring to James Harden. “I felt like he’s handled it the best as he could.”

Nash spent 18 seasons in the league as a player, retiring in 2014. That career included eight All-Star appearances, though the former MVP never served as an assistant coach after retirement. Still, Brooklyn owns the seventh-best record in the East (44-38) and won four straight games to end the season.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Knicks swingman RJ Barrett suffered a knee injury against the Wizards on Thursday, but Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) hears it isn’t serious. New York ruled Barrett out for its finale on Sunday, calling it a right knee sprain. The 21-year-old raised his scoring average from 17.6 to 20.0 points per game this season, but his shooting numbers slipped from last year (44% to 41% from the field and 40% to 34% from deep).
  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet examines how Raptors star Pascal Siakam reclaimed his place among the NBA’s elite players. Siakam finished the regular season, the best of his professional career, averaging 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. The 28-year-old also shot 49.4% from the floor and 34.4% from three-point range, leading Toronto to the fifth-best record in the East.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post explores the potential futures for each player on the Knicks, terming the roster as “broken.” New York failed to make the play-in tournament after a successful season last year, finishing the campaign on a disappointing note.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Noel, Jordan, Raptors

The Nets would have to go on a major winning streak to escape the play-in tournament. Winding up in that extra round could have major offseason consequences, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Coach Steve Nash could find his job in jeopardy, despite all the obstacles he’s been forced to deal with this season. The roster could be overhauled, as Lewis notes only six players have guaranteed contracts for next season and two others can opt out of their deals.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel did not play on Sunday due to plantar fasciitis and he could be out for an extended period, according to The New York Post’s Marc Berman. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Noel would not play until he recovered from the foot ailment and got some regular practice time. Noel has played in just 25 games due to an assortment of knee, hamstring and foot injuries. He signed a three-year, $27.7MM contract last summer with a team option for the final year.
  • DeAndre Jordan said his prior relationships with coach Doc Rivers and starters James Harden and Tobias Harris, plus the need for a backup center, made the Sixers an easy choice after he cleared waivers, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Jordan heaped praise on his former Clippers coach, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had, he’s more than a coach to me … when a new player comes to a team, it’s always everybody trying to get them to feel acclimated, but with Doc, he’s gonna curse me out like I’ve been here all season,” said Jordan, who played 10 minutes in his Sixers debut on Monday.
  • The Raptors’ loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday makes it seem almost inevitable that Toronto will wind up in the play-in tournament, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Canada writes. The defeat dropped Toronto three games behind Cleveland, which sits in sixth place in the East and also holds a tiebreaker advantage over the Raptors.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Oladipo, Nash, Knicks

Nets star Ben Simmons was seen taking shots at the team’s practice on Saturday, but there appears to be no change in his return timetable, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. General manager Sean Marks said on Thursday he believes the best-case scenario is Simmons returning within two weeks.

“He’s still in the same boat that Sean talked about, still his individual work and getting treatment at the same time, so nothing’s changed,” assistant coach Jacque Vaughn said, according to Botte.

Simmons was acquired by the Nets in a deal involving disgruntled superstar James Harden nearly one month ago. He last played on June 20 — when the Sixers were eliminated by the Hawks in the playoffs.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether Victor Oladipo will back up Kyle Lowry at point guard for the Heat. Miami is listing Oladipo as questionable to make his season debut on Monday against Houston, but the expectation is that he’ll play. The team used him at point guard when it acquired him from the Rockets last season.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said he didn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms while in the league’s health and safety protocols, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Nash exited protocols on Saturday and coached his first game back on Sunday. Brooklyn wound up losing its fourth straight game, dropping a 120-126 road contest to Boston.
  • The Knicks are continuing to search for answers at point guard, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York has mostly played without Derrick Rose due to injury, but former All-Star Kemba Walker recently decided to shut it down after receiving inconsistent minutes. The team has also given Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley heavy minutes. It trails the Hawks by six games for the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Mills, Durant, Curry, Nash

The Nets don’t know when Ben Simmons will be available, but Patty Mills expects him to make an immediate impact whenever he does come back, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Simmons hasn’t played yet this season due to a standoff with Sixers management, mental health issues and soreness in his back, but Mills believes he’ll be a difference maker.

“He’s going to be a threat either way,” Mills said. “On ball, off ball — whether he’s handling the ball, whether he’s off the ball as a screener, I think he’s such a threat that he’s going to draw a lot of attention. So I think given his IQ and the way he can pass the ball and handle the ball, that makes us better at his bare minimum. So, obviously, where he’s the biggest threat is in an open-court situation with people, especially shooters around him. But, like I said, a bare-minimum Ben Simmons makes this team a whole lot better as well.”

General manager Sean Marks said this week there’s “no real timetable” for Simmons to resume playing, although it will likely be two more weeks at minimum. Simmons hasn’t participated in a full practice since the February 10 trade that brought him from Philadelphia, but Mills said he has been able to learn from his new teammates while sidelined.

“We’re doing a lot of talking,” Mills said. “A lot of conversations, meaning the group, a lot of film, a lot of walk-through stuff. So he’s there for all of it; he’s there for the entire practice. And then he’s doing his part with his shooting coach and physio and whatever that looks like. But as far as every team thing goes, he’s at everything.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Even though the Nets lost Thursday in Kevin Durant‘s first game back after being injured, he offered some hope with a 31-point performance, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Durant said a total team effort will be needed to turn around the season, adding, “I don’t look at myself as that — as a savior.” 
  • Nets guard Seth Curry shares his memories of playing for retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in a lengthy interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post. Curry also touches on a few NBA topics, such as the difficulty he had breaking into the league, what it’s like to play alongside Durant and Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn’s playoff prospects after a second-half slide. “We put ourself in a tough situation with the play-in game, but we still like our chances against anybody in the league,” Curry said. “… Our sense of urgency is trying to fit together and figure out the way we’re gonna play when we do get in that play-in game and then hopefully into the playoffs.”
  • Steve Nash will be available to coach Sunday against the Celtics after clearing the health and safety protocols, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Nets Notes: Curry, Drummond, Simmons, Irving, Nash

While Ben Simmons remains out of action, two other players dealt from the Sixers to the Nets have been productive, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In five starts with Brooklyn, Seth Curry is averaging 19.2 PPG on 47.4% shooting from deep, while Andre Drummond is posting a double-double (11.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG) in 22 MPG. Curry’s contract runs through next season, while Drummond will be a free agent this summer.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers is pleased to see Drummond take on an expanded role in Brooklyn, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Rivers was happy the way Drummond accepted a backup role with the Sixers and said the former All-Star is missed from a chemistry standpoint.
  • Simmons’ back soreness that caused a delay in his return is a minor issue and he’ll try once again to work his way into playing shape this week, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (video link). “This is the same back issue he had at the beginning of training camp when he returned to Philadelphia,” she said. “This is something he’s had for a couple of years. … The plan is the same this week, ramp it up and see where you’re at.” However, coach Steve Nash has already ruled out Simmons from practicing this week, Lewis tweets.
  • As we noted last week, Kyrie Irving is excited by the possibility of vaccine mandates being relaxed in New York City. However, mayor Eric Adams reiterated in a CNBC interview he’s in no rush to do so, according to an ESPN report. “We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue,” Adams said. “I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.'”
  • Nash did not coach on Monday after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Lewis tweets. Jacque Vaughn filled in for him.