Nets fire Steve Nash amid 2-5 start to season

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Milwaukee.
AP Photo/Morry Gash

The Steve Nash era in Brooklyn has come to an end. The Nets announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had parted ways with Nash, ending what had been a turmoiled-filled run as the Brooklyn bench boss.

The news came less than 24 hours after the Nets had snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. A decision regarding the team’s next head coach will come in the near future, the Nets said in a press release, but assistant Coach Jacque Vaughn served as the acting head coach for Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. 

Nash had just entered his third season as the Nets coach and the team had struggled out of the gate going 2-5 in their first seven games. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported after the news that the Nets could look to Ime Udoka or Quin Snyder to fill the vacant head coaching job. 

Udoka was suspended for this season by Boston after having an improper workplace relationship with a female staffer. Nets general manager Sean Marks said during a Tuesday evening press conference that they had not made a decision on the next head coach. 

The Nets GM said that the conversations about Nash moving on as coach had been going on for the past couple of weeks. Marks did say that the Nets were not living up to the expectations and that a change was needed. 

“We both felt that this was time, it was certainly trending in that way,” Marks said. “And to be quite frank the team was not doing what it was supposed to be doing. We have fallen from our goals, from meeting our goals and it was time now because we stillhave lofty aspirations of where we need to get to. With that said, we wish Steve and Lilla all the best and commend him for everything he’s done.”

Nash had led the Nets through some very troubled waters after taking over as head coach in 2020 as the world was continuing to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nets did reach the postseason in both years that Nash was coach, but they fell well short of their lofty goals and a roster that at one point featured Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving and James Harden. 

The former NBA star turned head coach had to contend with a number of off-the-court issues. which included Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated resulting in him missing part of the season and being a part-time player. Nash also had a disgruntled Harden on his roster who eventually forced a trade to Philadelphia and he had fended off an offseason ultimatum by Kevin Durant to either fire Nash and Marks or trade the superstar elsewhere. 

Durant eventually had a sitdown that included ownership, Marks and Nash and they said they hashed things out. 

But after the rough start, things were compounded after Irving found himself in hot water again this past week following a social media post that linked to a movie filled with antisemitic tropes. 

Additionally, on the court, Nash’s system never really seemed to take with the team and his coaching decisions were called into question, especially during the first-round sweep by the Boston Celtics.

“It was an amazing experience with many challenges that I’m grateful for,” Nash said in a statement on social media following the announcement. “It was a pleasure to work with the players, performance team and front office every day. I’m especially grateful to my coaching staff and video room who are a talented group, with so much character and professionalism.”

Nash also thanked the fans for their support of the team. Additionally, he wished the team success going forward and said “the Nashs will be rooting for our team as they turn this season around.” 

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Nash’s tenure as head coach ends with him having coached 162 games for the Nets and a 94-67 record. In the postseason, he finished 7-9. 

“I’ve gotten to know Steve during his time in Brooklyn, and he is not one to shy away from challenges,” Nets owner Joe Tsai said in a statement. “My admiration and respect for him grew over time as he brought hard work and positive attitude to our organization every day, even in periods of exceptional storm surrounding the team. Clara and I want to thank Steve, Lilla and their family for making this extraordinary commitment. We began this journey as colleagues, we part as friends.”