With the shocking news — per Shams Charania — that the Nets are adding Amar’e Stoudemire to the coaching staff, the question is, “who’s next?” for the Nets coaching staff.
In addition to the big news that Amar’e is joining his old teammates Steve Nash and Sean Marks in Brooklyn, we’ve also learned that two former NBA players and a former assistant coach have turned Nash down. Dirk Nowitzki and Raja Bell, both former Nash teammates, have said Nash approached them, but they declined the job, wanting to spend more time removed from the game. Neither ruled out a return at some point.
Also, there were reports that the Nets had reached out to Igor Kokoskov, a Suns assistant when Nash and Stoudemire played in Phoenix. Instead, Kokoskov decided to head up Fenerbahce in Turkey.
Then, there was news about another name that has circulated in the assistant coach rumor mill. Phil Handy, the luckiest coach in the NBA, has worked the last six NBA Finals, winning it all with the Cavs (and Kyrie Irving) in 2016, with the Raptors in 2019 and the Lakers this year. Handy made it clear in recent comments that he plans on returning to L.A. for their title defense.
In a conversation with Jason Dumas of KRON4 in San Francisco this week, Handy seemed to leave little room for a move to Brooklyn or anywhere else. “I am a Los Angeles Laker. What’s next for me is waiting for (Lakers head coach) Frank Vogel to pick up the phone and… give me what my next directives are,” Handy said. That seems to be that.
So who does that leave on the speculation board? There’s Mike D’Antoni, who Frank Isola reported is on the Nets radar ... and whose connection to Marks, Nash, Stoudemire and the “7 Seconds or Less” Suns is legendary.
There’s also Brian Keefe, an assistant with the Thunder who has no (known) ties to Nash. Keefe, a defensive and development specialist, does have connections to Marks, having been a video coordinator during the Spurs title run in 2004, and Stoudemire, having been a Knicks assistant for two years when Amar’e roamed the Garden. More importantly, he worked with Kevin Durant in Seattle and OKC during KD’s run with the Sonics and Thunder. The Nets would have to get permission from Sam Presti to talk to Keefe about a new job.
Similarly, if Royal Ivey is interested in moving from the Knicks to Nets as reported, Sean Marks would have to get permission from Leon Rose, the New York basketball Operations exec. Like Keefe, Ivey has experience as an assistant and is a defensive specialist.
Of course, both the hirings of Nash and Stoudemire were bolts out of the blue. So be prepared for more surprises.
The other question, of course, is who’s staying beyond Jacque Vaughn? There’s been no word and the Nets official site still carries the names of the same six assistants who finished the season, including Vaughn (although the roster page often takes some time to update). There seems little doubt several of them will be departing. It’s just the way of the world.
Amar’e’s big year
Amar’e Stoudemire has had a big couple of months. In July, he was named MVP of the Israeli League Finals as Maccabi Tel Aviv (pictured above), then retired. It was his second Israeli League title. But at the August, Stoudemire fulfilled an even bigger dream. He completed his conversion to Judaism.
Although raised a Baptist, he was associated with the Black Hebrew Israelites through his mother, While with the Knicks, he said, “I have been aware since my youth that I am a Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development.”
Asked if there was a chance he was Jewish, he said back then, “I think through history, I think we all are.” He visited Israel in 2010 for the first time, saying he intended “to get a better understanding of [his] heritage.” He returned for the 2013 Maccabiah Games as assistant coach of the Canadian basketball team, hired by his teammate Steve Nash. While there he met with the late Israeli president Shimon Peres who urged him to join the Israel national basketball team.
By April 2018, he began converting to Judaism. In January 2019, he was granted residency in Israel. In March 2019, he received Israeli citizenship, and adopted the name Jehoshaphat Ben Avraham. He formally converted to Judaism with a Rabbinic court on August 26.
He celebrated his spiritual journey on Instagram...
Despite his peripatetic hoops career, Stoudemire has long maintained both an apartment in Greenwich Village and a 185-acre farm up the Hudson in Hyde Park, which includes a 2,066-square-foot log home.
Draft Sleeper of the Week - Josh Green
The Nets already have one player who was born in Australia, the son of an American hooper who played Down Under. Kyrie Irving was born in Melbourne where his father, Drederick, played for the Bulleen Boomers of the South East Australian Basketball League.
So how about adding a second? Josh Green of the Arizona Wildcats is a 6’6” shooting guard whose father —and mother— played pro ball in Australia. Unlike Irving, who left Melbourne at age 2, Green is more of an Aussie (although both hold dual citizenship.) Raised in a Sydney suburb, he lived in Australia until age 14 when his family came back to the U.S. and settled in Phoenix, where he played a year before he headed to IMG Academy in Florida.
A five-star recruit, Green went back to AZ and after a decent if not spectacular freshman year, declared for the Draft. His offensive numbers were solid, averaging 12.0 points a game on a 42/36/78 shooting line. It’s his defense, however, that has gotten him in the conversation as a top 20/25 pick.
He’s seen as a hyper athletic 3-and-D candidate who needs work on his handle and finishing, but he’s mature for a 19-year-old, as this virtual film session with Mike Schmitz of ESPN shows...
Unlike other shooting guards like Desmond Bane of TCU, or Aaron Nesmith of Vanderbilt , Green is a development project, not a plug-and-play type. He’ll turn 20 two days after the Draft. There are a lot of questions about the Nets thinking on the Draft. In a draft seen somewhere between mediocre and poor, committing to a two-year guaranteed deal totaling more than $5 million seems expensive with a huge luxury tax bill looming. And even if they do decide to use the pick, are they thinking about a development project or a potential deep rotation player? We are unlikely to know that until November 18, now just 24 days —and three Draft Sleepers— away.
A floorful of Nets
As we noted Thursday, the Nets have been working out in southern California ... everyone from Kevin Durant to Jaylen Hands. Then, Friday, there was new evidence that the Nets are working out together. Two clips — neither very long — got a lot of attention, the big one because it showed John Wall, who also ruptured his Achilles, looked very good against a floor full of Nets...
The Brooklyn Nets are WORKIN’ out in California.— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) October 24, 2020
Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, & Taurean Prince all seen scrimmaging against John Wall & co.
Kevin Durant has been working out at the same site — safe to assume he’s not far from the action. pic.twitter.com/Oz3G3TuKEg
And there’s more KD...
Often, the Nets preseason schedule includes an exhibition game with an overseas team, from Turkey, Brazil or Israel. They don’t always win either. This year, according to a report in the New Zealand press, the Nets preseason schedule was supposed to include a game against the New Zealand Breakers, Sean Marks first team. But like a lot of things, it got lost in the aftermath of COVID-19, writes Marc Hinton of NZ Stuff. The game would have been both an emotional and financial advantage for a team that’s been reeling. Maybe next year?
Of course, there could be a consolation prize. Many mock drafts have the Nets taking R.J. Hampton, the 6’5” Texas phenom who spent last season with the Breakers.
A Message from ‘The Bridge’
“The Bridge” is the Nets documentary series. This week, the team released an “epilogue” to its second season, a video covering the return to the “bubble.” The video features —and its narrated by— Caris LeVert ...
Now, we know that the marketing department doesn’t take its orders from basketball operations but the video suggests that LeVert is a key piece going forward, rather than a trade piece. And as we’ve noted, the number of players who’ve been traded between the time they signed an extension and the time the extension took effect is exactly zero.
Voting begins at Barclays
Early voting began in New York State Saturday and both Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden hosted polling places as part of the NBA Get-Out-The-Vote effort. Lines stretched around the entrance plaza and on to Flatbush and Dean Street. The City Board of Elections doesn’t provide daily totals, but it appeared that thousands took advantage of the opportunity. Nets and Barclays Center CEO John Abbamondi was on hand for the voting...
"[Barclays Center] is in the community, so it should be for the community."— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 25, 2020
"I can't wait no more. I am ready to vote today."
"I got nervous because I knew it was so important."
Scenes from @barclayscenter on the first day of Early Voting in New York #VoteEarlyDay pic.twitter.com/wDmTTSRwmb
Polling was set up in the atrium just the four pop-up food pantries were. BSE Global, the Nets and Barclays Center parent company, have also announced that all BSE Global employees are eligible for a paid day off to serve as poll workers.
On Thursday night, the Asia Society, the venerable New York institution built on forging closer ties between the U.S. and Asia, honored its “game changers” for 2020, those who “provided inspiration in a challenging year.” Among those honored were Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, specifically for their philanthropic work during the COVID-19 crisis.
It was virtual and the Nets and Liberty co-owners spoke about their continuing priorities...
“It took a global pandemic for people to realize that no system is perfect,” Joe Tsai said. “And the world depends on the conscience and responsibility of those who are in fortunate positions to step up where they’re needed most.”
“We will continue to focus our philanthropic work on the causes we care deeply about — science, social justice, and closing racial health, education, and wealth gaps.” — 2020 #AsiaGameChangers honorees Clara and @JoeTsai1999 pic.twitter.com/YhTdpcF74l— Asia Society (@AsiaSociety) October 23, 2020
Among those who joined the congratulations were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who used the Asia Society to connect with the Tsais during the height of the COVID crisis this spring, and Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo! and a long-time friend of the Tsais.
“I think it surprises no one, certainly does not surprise me, to see your generosity and your philanthropy at work … Together you two are a powerhouse.” — @Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang on @joetsai1999 and Clara Tsai #AsiaGameChangers pic.twitter.com/Leji48c3Av— Asia Society (@AsiaSociety) October 23, 2020
Among the others honored were BTS, the Korean pop group, YoYo Ma, the celebrated cellist, and Vikas Khanna, celebrity chef and philanthropist from India.
Marc Stein reported late this week that Kenny Atkinson is line for a job as a top assistant to Ty Lue with the Clippers...
Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has emerged as a strong contender to join new head coach Ty Lue's staff with the Clippers, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2020
Although many thought Atkinson would be an ideal choice for a team that’s developing a young core, like the Knicks, owners are going for the most part with bigger “name” coaches. So Brooklyn’s former head coach who doubled the Nets win total in three years, looks like he’s headed to an assistant role with a contender, which may not be what he wanted, but after a solid career in Brooklyn, he’ll have a chance for a ring in L.A. If he winds up working with Lue, we wish him well. Maybe we’ll see him in the spring or summer.