Nets’ Steve Nash gets vote of confidence from Hornets coach Steve Clifford

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash is restrained after having a technical foul called on him during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Milwaukee.
AP Photo/Morry Gash

There were many questions about Steve Nash’s job security after last season, and even more so after it leaked that Kevin Durant had wanted him gone, but his fellow coaches have shown support for the Nets’ third-year head coach since the season started. Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford became the latest this week when he told reporters last season’s issues were not Nash’s shoulders. 

Clifford had been a coaching consultant for Brooklyn last season and was privy to all the drama that went on. He pointed to the many injury issues that the Nets endured during the 2021-22 campaign. 

“This is where coaches take heat for things that are not their fault. The number one problem last year in Brooklyn was games missed. That’s it,” Clifford said to the New York Post before the Hornets game at Madison Square Garden. “I didn’t go to every game, but I watched every game.”

It’s no secret that the Nets suffered plenty of injuries, including to their biggest star, Kevin Durant who was out during the middle of the year. Brooklyn also played a third of the season without Kyrie Irving and then the rest of the year with him as a part-time player due to the city’s vaccination mandate. 

The now-Hornets coach believed if that things had worked out differently in those areas it would have been a much different story for the Nets.

“I believe in the games Kevin played last year we were fourth in offense, 12th in defense,” Clifford said. “Kyrie didn’t play for different reasons. If Kevin never gets hurt we’re like second or third, [we have] home-court [advantage], we’re not playing Boston in the first round and it’s a totally different season. You can always get into all these other things. The number one thing by far, games missed, that’s it.”

Nash had received support last week as well from Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse as well. Nurse told reporters at Barclays Center last Friday that he had been aware of the situation that had been going on with Nash in Brooklyn. 

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“I’ve known him for a long time,” Nurse said. “I’ve had a lot of good moments along the way, and so when there’s a guy you know, for sure (there’s empathy), you know, you always paid a little more attention when it’s somebody you consider a friend. And certainly, like, it’s hard. This job is hard, right?

“This profession is hard, and that stuff just makes it harder, but I think he’s, I think he’s handled it with great composure and class and all that kind of stuff, and he’s still fighting.”