Appearing on J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter’s “Old Man and the Three” podcast Thursday, Steve Nash provided a bit more insight into how he intends to run the Nets offense ... offense on “run.”
According to a series of tweets by Jac Manuell, and Stef Bondy’s story in the Daily News, Nash expressed excitement about his roster and talked about how he plans to use his two superstars whenever games begin again.
“Kevin, with his length, is a matchup problem for everyone,” said Nash. “Ky is a weapon off the ball. Kevin can play all five positions and I plan to use him in all five positions. I get excited to use some of the guys on the roster Caris, DJ, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris.”
Indeed, as Brian Lewis reports, Nash is not the first Nets coach to think KD can play across the 1 though 5.
“You remember when [Russell] Westbrook went out, he was the primary ball-handler, I think he was MVP that year. He can play one. In today’s NBA, its one-through-five. Anywhere, no problem,” Kenny Atkinson said the game before he was dumped.
“Now, if he’s going against a big, strong guy in a matchup, maybe you have to [be careful]. But then you have to come out and guard him. Realizing you’ve just got to understand that advantage. … I think it depends on the game matchups and all that. But he’s capable of doing it. One-through-five, no question.”
There has been speculation on how the Nets would use Durant whether, for example, he might get some minutes at the 5, but Nash’s comment suggests that he sees an even broader role for the 10-time all-Star (and four-time scoring champ) beyond his traditional role.
It also suggested that Nash is happy with his core, despite a spate of speculation about trades. It’s something he suggested in his press conference as well. “I expect the core to be there, I’m planning on this core being there,” said Nash. “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.”
Nash spoke about Irving (who he reportedly visited last week in New Jersey). Much has been written about Nash’s long-time relationship with Durant, but the Nets new coach told Redick that he also has known —and respected— Irving for a while.
“We’ve had a relationship since his rookie year. It’s something I’m looking to develop,” Nash added. “Obviously I have a much more developed and longer history with Kevin, but with Ky, I’m excited. He’s one of my favorite players. He’s kind of a savant with the basketball. But also to get to know him off the court.”
Per Manuell, Nash described Irving as “a deep, sensitive, intelligent person that I’m excited to get to know on a deeper level.”
On the general issue of relating to players, the Hall of Famer noted he plans on “being cold and analytical with the basketball and being warm and embracing the person.” He offered this as well, “I think it’s important to collaborate with your players on both ends. It’s always a constant balance with your long-term goals and methodology.”
In talking about how, after seven years in retirement, he decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Nets job, Nash said the “seed” was planted during his time as player development consultant with Golden State ... and as he noted at his press conference, he first broached the idea with Marks in early summer. He also revealed that the two, who were teammates in Phoenix, have a history of bouncing ideas off each other.
Last week, Brandon Williams, the former Kings assistant GM, noted that other teams beyond the Warriors had availed themselves of Nash’s ability to connect with players, particularly younger ones, because of his “special touch.”
“I threw my name in the summer,” said Nash. “Sean has always come to me with ideas and opportunities, this time I came to him. I found a lot of excitement in the opportunity.”
And he admitted that he probably wouldn’t have taken a job with a developing roster.
“If it was a development opportunity I don’t think it would’ve got me to leave the life I had.” Nash said.
As for the two issues that have been discussed by skeptics of the move — his lack of experience with x’s and o’s and whether he benefited from “white privilege” — Nash faced them head-on as he did in the press conference.
“I wasn’t hired to come in and be a tactical wizard,” Nash said . “I think they understand that my acumen for the game is strong and I can catch up on any of the tactical aspects. I think they hired me because of my experience, the personality to work with these guys and help them grow and reach their potential and bring it all together. I can’t lose sight of that.
“I can’t come in and start being Mr. X’s and O’s, and lose sight of the fact that of course I want to be strong in all departments, but I have to lead with my understanding of group dynamics, leading, having gone through the experience that these guys have gone through. I’ve been there… I got to lead with why I was brought here and what they saw in me and catch up in other departments.”
He also agreed with Spencer Dinwiddie’s assessment that coaching today is 80 percent psychology, 10 percent temperment and 10 percent x’s and o’s.
“I think he’s right,” Nash said. “Who knows what those numbers and breakdowns are? But the job is about connectivity, creating relationships. Whatever the personalities in that room add up to and how the puzzle fits. And gaining that trust. Especially in this generation. When I first came into the league it was more of an authoritarian position being a coach, and this is how we’re doing it. Those days are long gone.
“The world has changed, guys who play in the league now, it’s a different generation that has had different experiences. So I think it’s really important to double down on those relationships and build culture. Culture is a system of behavior.”
And as for “white privilege,” Nash said it is an issue, he and other Caucasians have benefited from it, but disagreed that his hire is a good example, citing other point guards —both white and black from Magic Johnson to Jason Kidd— have gotten jobs with no experience.
“To be honest I excepted it. It’s a pivotal time for social change and racial injustice. It’s inflammatory and it should be. I don’t think contextually this is white privilege,” Nash said, adding, “There’s a precedent there, lots of African-American players retiring and heading straight into head coaching jobs. I had a unique career that puts me in a unique position like some of those guys, but I think it’s important we talk about those things.”
Nash is likely to face other questions going forward like how to develop chemistry, particularly in light of the failure of the Clippers in the “bubble.”
As Brian Lewis of the Post wrote Thursday, the Nets essentially played with two rosters this year, one led by Irving and one led by Caris LeVert — and that will change even more next season with Durant arriving and Irving trying to get more minutes than the 658 he played this past season, the lowest number of his career.
- Steve Nash knows his strength as a rookie coach is relationships: ‘I wasn’t hired to come in and be a tactical wizard’ - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Steve Nash willing for Kevin Durant to play some point for Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- New Nets head coach Steve Nash plans to use Kevin Durant ‘in all five positions’ this upcoming season - Ian Begley - SNY
- Clippers are the NBA playoffs failure Nets must learn from - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets mailbag: Free agent targets, trade talk and a Joe Harris debate - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York