After stepping down from his position as an assistant coach Wednesday, Mike D’Antoni is unlikely to remain with the Nets in a smaller capacity, per Sean Marks.
Marks spoke highly of D’Antoni following the conclusion of the NBA Draft, noting that his former assistant coach will be putting his family first and stepping away from the Nets. D’Antoni, who is reportedly aiming to return to full-time coaching in the future, has been a coach — both NBA and in Italy (Benneton Basket) — for 21 straight years.
Like LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nets GM said he’d leave the door ajar for D’Antoni despite the unlikely chance he’ll return.
“He was amazing and is an amazing, amazing coach, and even better individual. Our time here with Mike and learning from him over the past year was incredible. What he brought to the team was absolutely terrific. We all know how close Steve [Nash] and Mike are and he brought a dimension to our group that we will certainly miss, without a doubt,” Marks said.
“But we wish him well. We wish his family well in whatever their endeavors. Look, they’re always welcome to come back around the Nets, around us. But I think for the time being, as Mike’s mentioned to us, it’s family first. He’s enjoying his family, his wife, Laurel, and we wish them well,” Marks added.
The Nets have yet to name a replacement but Mike Scotto reported that veteran NBA assistant Brian Keefe is a “name to monitor.” Keefe worked with Kevin Durant in Seattle and with KD and James Harden in Oklahoma City. He also was on the Spurs staff in 2007 when Marks was a player.
Steve Nash — who played under D’Antoni during his playing career — issued a statement two days ago, talking about how he relied heavily on D’Antoni during his rookie campaign as the Nets head coach — delivered high praise following his decision to step down.
“I would like to thank Mike for everything he did for me, as well as our organization, over the past year. Having Mike next to me was invaluable as I navigated my first season as head coach. I will be forever grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together. Our players and staff all benefited from his time in Brooklyn and we wish Mike, Laurel and their family the very best in what lies ahead,” said Nash on D’Antoni in the statement released by the Nets.