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Nets dump Steve Nash; Ime Udoka likely replacement?

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Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Amidst a 2-5 start and yet another controversy involving Kyrie Irving, the Nets and head coach Steve Nash have agreed to part ways.

The announcement was emailed by the team Tuesday morning, just hours before the Nets are to face the Chicago Bulls. Jacque Vaughn, who replaced Kenny Atkinson as interim back in March 2020, will be interim again. However, both Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski suggest that the Net may hire Ime Udoka with Shams reporting discussions have already begun and Woj saying that a deal could be struck as soon as Wednesday. In his press conference Tuesday, Sean Marks said no decision has been made on Nash’s replacement.

After leading the Celtics to the NBA Finals, Udoka was suspended by Boston for an improper relationship with women subordinates.

Here is the statement from the Nets:

The Brooklyn Nets and Head Coach Steve Nash have agreed to part ways. A decision regarding the team’s next head coach will be made in the near future.

“We want to thank Steve for everything he brought to our franchise over the past two-plus seasons,” said General Manager Sean Marks. “Since becoming head coach, Steve was faced with a number of unprecedented challenges, and we are sincerely grateful for his leadership, patience and humility throughout his tenure. Personally, this was an immensely difficult decision; however, after much deliberation and evaluation of how the season has begun, we agreed that a change is necessary at this time. We wish Steve, Lilla and their family all the best in the future.”

Brooklyn Nets Governor Joe Tsai said, “I’ve gotten to know Steve during his time in Brooklyn, and he is not one to shy away from challenges. My admiration and respect for him grew over time as he brought hard work and positive attitude to our organization every day, even in periods of exceptional storm surrounding the team. Clara and I want to thank Steve, Lilla and their family for making this extraordinary commitment. We began this journey as colleagues, we part as friends.”

Nash tweeted his thanks to the organization, fans and the borough...

Adrian Wojanowski broke the news...

On Twitter and on ESPN’s Sports Center, Woj reported that the Nets may be interested in Udoka, and Quin Snyder, who coached the Jazz last season.

Shams Charania went even further, saying discussions are already underway, calling him a strong front-runner for the job...

Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics beat writer for the Boston Globe, reported Tuesday that even with Udoka still under contract, “the Celtics would allow Udoka to leave to coach another team. A league source said the Celtics are unlikely to seek compensation from the Nets if a deal is finalized.”

Udoka, Woj told Sage Steele, would not have a problem getting released from his commitment to Boston. At the time of his suspension this summer, Woj reported this about the issue that led the Celtics to suspend a head coach that had taken the team to the Finals.

The independent law firm probe into Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka found that he used crude language in his dialogue with a female subordinate prior to the start of an improper workplace relationship with the woman, an element that significantly factored into the severity of his one-year suspension, sources told ESPN.

Those investigative findings — which described verbiage on Udoka’s part that was deemed especially concerning coming from a workplace superior — contribute to what is likely a difficult pathway back to his reinstatement as Celtics coach in 2023, sources told ESPN.

Specifically, a league insider tells NetsDaily that Udoka had repeatedly sent inappropriate messages to women on the Celtics staff. Udoka had been an assistant coach with the Spurs, 76ers and Nets prior to being hired as head coach by the Celtics in 2021.

Nash finished his two-plus year tenure with a 94-67 record, including 2-5 this season. He has been buffeted by any number of issues, including Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated, Irving and Durant’s comment how they could be head coaches for the team, trade requests from James Harden and Kevin Durant and of course, Durant’s ultimatum last August 7 that Nash and Sean Marks be fired. Most recently, of course, Nash has had to respond to questions about Irving’s promotion of antisemitic materials.

There was no indication of who initiated the discussions that led to the departure but Nick Friedell said he believed it was possible that Nash himself, disgusted by continuing controversy, wanted out. Friedell also said the Nets need to “push the button” and blow it all up. ESPN’s beat writer also said he expects that the Nets are likely to make other moves in the near future.

Nash was hired in 2020, largely because Sean Marks thought that Nash had the ability to connect with superstars like Durant, Irving and later Harden. However, as Goran Dragic, a friend of Nash’s who joined the Nets last March, said during the summer, “Every day there was something different, something difficult.”

The news also once again raises questions about Tsai’s ownership. Vaughn is now the third head coach since Tsai took over ownership in October 2019. He has also gone through three CEOs at BSE Global, the Nets parent company.

Sean Marks will speak with the media at 5:00 p.m. ET.