Steve Nash is gone and Kyrie Irving could be unless he fills certain requirements laid out for his return. Now comes a report from Brian Lewis that the Hall of Famer and the superstar weren’t in sync on play-calling to the point that Irving was openly defiant of Nash’s in-game moves.
Lewis reports Wednesday...
In the Nets’ Oct. 29 loss to the Pacers — one of the last games before Kyrie Irving was suspended — the All-Star guard didn’t just wave off the play called by then-coach Steve Nash. On 10 separate occasions, Nash called a specific play and the scout watched Irving do something entirely different.
That wasn’t simple creativity, something to be expected from the uniquely electrifying All-Star. No, it was double-digit defiance.
Lewis quotes an advance scout, NBA staffers who go to games to gauge upcoming opponents, on the issue. The job is part intelligence-gathering, part analysis and the scout told Lewis that he was shocked by what he saw.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” the scout told The Post. “Nash would call something, and he’d run the opposite. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“They were the most dysfunctional team I’ve seen [in years],” another scout told The Post. Still another source who Lewis described as “close to the situation” told him that Nash was “technically the coach,” but that no matter what game plan he gave the Nets, “they did whatever they wanted.”
Lewis isn’t alone in laying out the scout’s analysis. Marc Stein, writing after the decision to dump Nash, wrote this:
In various corners of the NBA scouting community, furthermore, it had already become clear that Nash was being tuned all the way out. Advance scouts have extensive knowledge of opposing team play calls ... and I heard from one club that, in one of Nash’s final games, there were in the ballpark of 10 easy-to-spot occasions that Irving ran something completely different after Nash shouted the play he wanted.
A league source told NetsDaily that indeed Irving’s “antics” this season had soured a lot of the team staffers. He did not provide details.
The Nets have indeed played better without Irving — and Nash — winning back-to-back road games with a depleted roster and nearly pulling off a win against Dallas.
As Lewis points out, things seem looser.
“It’s hard to win and it’s hard to get everybody on the same page. So that’s what we were — we were on the same page,” Durant said.
“Total trust,” said interim coach Jacque Vaughn. “The group [has] trusted each other.”
Irving’s situation remains unsettled. His meeting Tuesday with Commissioner Adam Silver was, according to Shams Charania, “productive and understanding” ... “paving the way for the Nets and their suspended star to work through his steps on a potential path forward.” But there’s no word where he stands in meeting the six conditions for his return or whether he and the players union will appeal the suspension. More than one supporter of Irving has said the conditions are emasculating.
- Defiant Kyrie Irving blew off Steve Nash’s Nets play calls 10 times in one game - Brian Lewis - New York Post