As of now, the Nets coaching staff is Steve Nash and five holdovers from Kenny Atkinson’s group led by Jacque Vaughn. Vaughn is expected to be the highest paid assistant coach in the NBA (unless he gets a head coach job.)
There has been some tea leaving reading among pundits but as of now, it appears that Adam Harrington, who’s been an assistant for four years as well as player development director, with be back. He’s also a longtime friend of Kevin Durant and introduced KD to Nash.
So, let the speculation run wild. Both Alex Schiffer and Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson added a couple of names to the mix over the last couple of days and Schiffer reports that one coach, Igor Kokoškov, who joined Fenerbahçe in Turkey earlier this year, opted out of consideration. (Nash had also asked Dirk Nowitzki if he was interested in working as an assistant coach, but he declined.)
A source with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic that there was interest in bringing Kokoškov to Brooklyn, but he prefers to stay in Turkey with his current team.
In addition to those whose names have been bandied about, Schiffer suggests that a former Nash coach, (with Team Canada) Jay Triano could be on the list. Robinson mentioned Rod Strickland who’s close to Kyrie Irving —and in fact ix Irving’s godfather.
Of Triano, who coached the Raptors and Suns as well as Team Canada, Schiffer writes...
Triano was Nash’s coach with the Canadian national team and is currently an assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets ... He brings a relationship with Nash that dates back to his playing days. Triano is also big into analytics, which fits general manager Sean Marks’ approach under Atkinson.
Strickland had an up-and-down career with nine different teams. His only coaching experience, however, was as an assistant for three years at South Florida.
Beyond new names like Triano and Strickland, Schiffer’s breakdown also includes other names both internally and externally. Among those who are working as assistants, two — Phil Handy of the Lakers and Brian Keefe of the Thunder who have had worked with the Nets superstars, Handy with Irving in Cleveland and Keefe with Durant in Oklahoma City.
Schiffer also still includes Jeff Van Gundy in his breakdown.
Despite being out of coaching for years, Van Gundy drew positive reviews when he coached Team USA last summer for Olympic qualifying. Nets point guard Chris Chiozza played for Van Gundy on Team USA and said he left with a positive impression of him.
However, as Schiffer also noted, “the ESPN analyst hasn’t coached in the NBA in over 10 years after his stint with the Rockets ended in 2007, but has been linked to both the Rockets and Clippers, which could eliminate him as an option for the Nets.”
Similarly, Schiffer lists Royal Ivey, the Knicks assistant, as a possibility. The Knicks would have to give the Nets permission to interview Ivey and there’s no word on whether the Nets have even asked. Ivey also has a long-term relationship with Durant going back to their time in Oklahoma City.
There’s also the questions 1) how many of other current assistants will stay; 2) how many assistant coaches will Steve Nash want on his staff; and 3) what will the mix be between development and tactician? The Nets had six assistants under Kenny Atkinson and still do. It’s unlikely all will return. The number is about the norm (although the Mavs once had 11!)
Also, most of the external names mentioned — Handy, Keefe and Ivey — are development specialists rather than tacticians. Van Gundy, of course, is a tactician. Will the Nets feel they need a tactician with Nash not having any coaching experience.
- What we’re hearing about the potential candidates for Steve Nash’s Nets staff - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York