When reporters asked Steve Nash about how his offense would shape up, Steve Nash wouldn’t get into specifics, but as the point guard of Mike D’Antoni’s famous “Seven Seconds or Less” and an innovator himself, Nash isn’t likely to adopt Dean Smith’s “Four Corners.” So how fast will they run? As Brian Lewis joked, “Six Seconds or Less?”
“Stylistically, it’s to be determined,” said Nash in his virtual conference call from HSS Center Wednesday. “Obviously one of the most important things is to start on the defensive end, be strong in defensive transition and in the half-court,” Nash said Wednesday via Zoom. “And on offense, for our team we have a talented group, we definitely want to use the talent, speed, athleticism, versatility of our players that’re able to make plays for each other.
“The skill is profound in our roster, and we want to put them in a position where they can express themselves and in a way where they can be very difficult to cover, make teams make a lot of decisions and potentially a lot of mistakes and make them difficult to guard. That’s still a work in progress.”
Nash, of course, has the horses that can run and run, led by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. And that’s without adding anyone. (Another difference from Jason Kidd: Kidd was promised that he could run and gun, as he did as a player, but then Billy King traded for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.)
The Nets new coach left no doubt how he feels about his roster, calling it “incredible” at one point and not shying away from championship talk. But he also left open the possibility there will be movement.
“I expect the core to be there, I’m planning on this core being there, but in the NBA you have to be adaptable and know that anything can happen. So I’m planning around this group... I’m thrilled with this roster.”
The Nets off-season, of course, remains a mystery. They have two picks, at Nos. 19 and 55, in the Draft (which will now probably be November 19) but no cap room. Still, there’s some room for flexibility with 12 players currently under contract. Moreover, Joe Tsai has said he’s willing to pay the luxury tax to build a championship team.
It should be noted that Nash will have an insight few others have in one area of scouting. From 2012 to 2019, he was general manager of Team Canada, a time when Canadian basketball started producing top young players, Nash will know where to look for the next one ... or be able to share intelligence on Canadians already in the league.
Nash was non-committal about his staff. Of course, Jacque Vaughn will be staying on as the lead assistant, what some teams call “associate head coach.” And Adam Harrington, both because of his accomplishments as director of player development and connections to Nash and Durant, will be back. On Thursday, Shams Charania reported that the Nets are pursuing “multiple assistant candidates” including current Lakers assistant Phil Handy, who’s been an assistant coach with the Cavs when Irving played in Cleveland and last year with the Raptors.
Both Sean Marks and Nash had kind things to say about Vaughn, Marks noting that it wasn’t an easy thing telling his longtime colleague and friend that he finished second.
“That’s never an easy discussion. It’s never easy to tell somebody that, ‘Hey, look, you came out second in this regard.’ But it’s a credit to JV as a man and who he is and wanting to continue to stay here and be a part of something and continue to build,” Marks said. “He knows what’s at stake here, and he also knows he’s valued by Steve, and Steve and JV have had multiple conversations.”
Nash confirmed that having Vaughn as his No. 2 was something he wanted.
“He’s an incredibly high-character individual, extremely hard-working, extremely prepared,” Nash said. “He’s an all-around top human being.
“But also what he’s done for this organization, the work he’s put in, the building he’s done from a cultural and basketball standpoint, the inside knowledge here is invaluable to continue. … I couldn’t think of a better person to have alongside me to work with, to learn from, collaborate with. So I feel very fortunate he’d remain and be willing to be a part of this.”
Vaughn won kudos not just for his coaching in the “bubble,” going 5-3 — one shot away from 6-2, but his connections with his players who whenever given a chance sang his praises. And the Nets decision to pay him the highest salary in the NBA was more than a nice guesture. He was getting noticed in the “bubble” and at least one of the five teams with openings, the Pacers, reportedly had him on a short list.
When asked how he sees himself on the sideline, Nash took the opportunity to broaden the question in his response.
“I don’t see myself as a yeller and screamer,” Nash said. “But I haven’t actually been over there yet so we’ll see what transpires. But I think the reality is I’m going to be myself. If I’m anything other than myself, it’s not going to work. I can’t come in trying to conform to what I think a coach is supposed to be.”
- What Steve Nash’s Nets offense is expected to look like - Brian Lewis - New York Post