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Long Island Nets make it official, announce Bret Brielmaier as their head coach

Phoenix Suns v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Nets announced Steve Nash’s coaching staff last month, there seemed to be someone missing from the list of the newly hired and holdovers. Bret Brielmaier had been an assistant with Brooklyn since the beginning of the Sean Marks era, had played a role in developing younger Nets and had even been the lead assistant to Jacque Vaughn in the Orlando “bubble.”

Mystery solved. On Tuesday, the Nets elevated the 35-year-old from Brooklyn assistant to Long Island head coach. Adam Zagoria of Forbes Sports Money had telegraphed the hire over the weekend.

“Bret has been an integral part of the Nets family for the past four seasons, and we are thrilled that he’ll be coaching the Long Island Nets,” said Long Island GM Matt Riccardi in a team statement. “His experience and vision are a perfect fit for leading the development of emerging players on Long Island, and we are eager to see the growth he inspires in our next generation of Nets talent.”

Inside the walls of the HSS Training Facility, Steve Nash and his players expressed excitement for Brielmaier being officially named the head coach of the Long Island Nets.

Nash thinks the hiring of Brielmaier is a “great fit.” The Nets head coach liked the organic hiring and believes his coaching experience and institutional knowledge will be vital to develop his future two-way players ... and find diamonds in the rough.

“I think he is a great fit,” Nash said about Brielmaier “One - he was an assistant here and I believe in Cleveland, so he has a lot of prior NBA coaching experience. He has inside information and knowledge about this organization so it will be a seamless fit. He is going to grow as a head coach in that position, which is important for his development and for him to continue to refine his talents but for us, to be able to have that two-way relationship with Long Island and that Bret has NBA experience and inside experience with the Nets is a great fit. We are really fortunate that he wanted to take that step, be a head coach at this time, and help us develop our two-way guys.”

Joe Harris’ relationship with the new Long Island head coach reaches further than their time together in Brooklyn. During Harris’ rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brielmaier was an assistant and worked with him.

Harris called him an “excellent young coach” and believes he’ll thrive with Long Island.

“I have been with Bret the last two years but I was even with him my rookie year in Cleveland as well,” Harris said. “I have been around Bret for a while and I have sort of seen him descend to the front of the bench position to now the Long Island coach.

“I think he’s an excellent young coach. I saw how much he helped in development for a lot of the young guys on our team, especially someone like Jarrett Allen who he worked with specifically with. I think he is going to do a really good job with Long Island.”

In fact, it was Brielmaier who back in 2016 recommended Harris to the Nets. At that point, the second round pick in the 2014 Draft had been traded by Cavs, cut by the Magic and undergone ankle surgery. The rest is history.

Caris LeVert provided a deeper analysis of what type of coach Brielmaier is. He views him as a coach any young player would want in the early stages of an NBA career. The 26-year-old thinks he will also thrive with the Nets G League affiliate.

“Bret is a great coach but a great guy,” LeVert said. “High energy guy. [He] has a positive attitude each and every day and I think as a young player coming into this league, that is all you can ask for. Someone who pushes you every day and has a positive attitude. He definitely does both of those things and I can’t wait to see him be successful being the head coach so shoutout to him.”

Brielmaier will likely work with more than just the Nets’ future two-way players. With Brooklyn having great depth, it will be hard for developmental stage players to find minutes on the hardwood and follow their developmental routine.

Nash noted Wednesday that Rodions Kurucs is in that category of players. Nash said he’s coach is high on the 22-year-old Kurucs, especially with his versatility to play multiple positions. Still, he acknowledges he does need work.

“I like Rodi,” Nash said. “I do think he is still more in the developmental bucket to continue his 3-point shooting. He is a versatile athlete, plays hard, and has good speed and mobility for a 4 or a 5. He can play multiple positions so he is still a really talented, nice player but with the depth of our team, I wouldn’t want to put too much on him.

“I think he is still a player that is developing, learning his craft, adapting to the NBA game, developing his shooting, and trying to become a guy that can crack into the rotation. I think right now, he is just working his butt off, playing hard every day, learning, and improving his shooting. He has a future for sure.”

When Nash was asked about what he knows about the future of the G League, he thinks it is looking like G League affiliates are heading into a “bubble” but is not quite sure.

“I think we are still trying to figure that out,” Nash said about the future of the G League. “I believe the G League is looking at a bubble. It does cause a different scenario so we will see. I don’t think I can make any statements or decisions on that yet until we know exactly what it looks like, what we are dealing with, and then we will start to evaluate how we utilize the G League bubble.”

According to reports, the NBA would set up the G League “bubble” in College Park, Georgia, not far from Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. which would be ideal for moving players to and from NBA teams. But not all 26 NBA teams with G League affiliates have agreed to join the “bubble” — and pay a $500,000 fee to the NBA to cover costs.

In the meantime, two-way players and players on Exhibit 9 and 10 contracts can continue to practice with their NBA clubs.

Brielmaier is the fourth Long Island Nets coach. The other three all have jobs as assistant coaches in the NBA: Ronald Nored with the Hornets; Will Weaver with the Rockets and Shaun Fein with the Clippers.