Day 1 of Nets training camp was more of the same. Yes, there was some discussion about the propensity of Brooklyn’s offense as well the team’s positional versatility, but in large part, reporters wanted and got an inside look at how this group has rebounded from what could best be described as a turbulent offseason following a miserable regular season and playoffs.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Brooklyn’s star player, Kevin Durant, requested a trade in a saga that nearly spanned two full months, and things got so bad reportedly that Durant called for the heads of his general manager, Sean Marks, and his head coach, Steve Nash. That only got ironed out at a meeting between the Nets and Durant in Los Angeles on August 22, sever weeks after KD’s original trade request.
Nash, who only briefly commented on the entire ordeal during Monday’s Media Day, provided more clarity on how he and his star player have ironed things out to build a new future together and in the process tried to cast some doubt on KD’s purported ultimatum.
“We’re fine. We’re good. Ever since we’ve talked, it’s been like nothing changed,” said Nash. “I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues, we had a moment, and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. And it’s a common situation in the league — we all are hurting, seething to go through what we went through last year. Not being able to overcome all that adversity and sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win. But the reality is, we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year and also keep perspective.”
Nash went on to say that Durant’s request “didn’t really bother him” and wasn’t all that surprising. As an NBA player for 18 years and now a head coach for two, Nash is what you call a veteran of this sort of thing.
“Knowing Kevin as long as I have, it didn’t really bother me the way maybe everyone would think — that’s a part of being competitors. I wasn’t like, overly surprised, and I wasn’t even overly concerned. This is something that I thought we would address in time. And we did and here we are, and we’re looking forward,” said Nash, beginning his third year in Brooklyn.
“And I think there’s something in this that we can all grow from as well. So sometimes when things like that happen, the outside world makes a big deal of it; from the inside, we take it as an opportunity for growth. And I think we’re in a really good position to start the season.
“And regardless of the way everyone wants to talk about our trauma all the time, for us, we’ve been through this. I played in the league for whatever, 17, 18 years. I’ve been here now, year three, seen it all, done at all, it does not impact me in the way maybe it impacts people on the street or the media. So, it was never really as big a deal to me. I always thought we’d have our moment. We discussed it, and we choose a course, and we’re fortunate to all be in the gym working together again. And I’m excited. The energy’s been outstanding.”
As for the reporting that Durant gave Joe Tsai an ultimatum, Nash said, hold on, it wasn’t quite like that.
“A lot of things reported are not accurate. A lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. You got fragmented bits of truth. You got things that are flat out not true. It happens. It’s the nature of the media now a days,” said Nash who did not elaborate. The original story on the ultimatum came from Shams Charania. Tsai quickly tweeted out a vote of confidence in both Marks and Nash.
Markieff Morris hilariously compared the whole ordeal to breaking up and getting back together with a significant other, dropping a one-liner that’s already in the running as the signature quote from training camp.
“This is the NBA game. Break up with a girlfriend and you get back with her. Same s—, same s—. There’s differences until you figure it out,” said Morris. “Broke up with my wife a couple of times and we still married!”
Kumbaya moments aside, Nash also touched on the fluid center rotation, a big topic from Media Day. Firstly, Brooklyn’s head coach echoed Marks’ positive sentiments from Monday about second-year center, Day’Ron Sharpe, giving all types of kudos to the 20-year-old’s work ethic this offseason.
“I think Day’Ron’s a guy that put in a lot of time this summer. We worked him hard and he responded, he got a lot better,” said Nash. “The opportunities are there for him to earn minutes. But there’s certainly some competition.”
The obvious competition at the center spot is Nicolas Claxton, who Marks gushed about on Monday. However, Nash cited another player who could squeeze in some minutes at the 5: the aforementioned Morris, who last season played 24 percent of his total minutes at center for the Miami Heat.
“He is a 5,” said Nash bluntly before detailing Morris’ vast skillset. “It’s great to bring in a veteran like that into our group. Someone with experience, toughness. He’s been deep in the playoffs and done a lot of things that can help our group as we navigate everything that comes at you during the season.”
Morris shared his experiences manning the small-ball 5 position over his 11-year career, stating that, though he doesn’t necessarily see himself as a center in the same way that Nash does, he’s certainly comfortable with filling any and all roles asked of him as he fights for a spot on Brooklyn’s roster.
“I played a little bit, man, it was really team-to-team. Really, it’s whatever is needed. Played a little bit. I wouldn’t call myself a center,” said Morris, before concluding with, “whatever Steve calls me, that’s what I am.”
Morris told reporters that he thought the Nets were “soft” last year “just point blank period. When we played up against them, they was soft. Just go right up in their chest. That’s what we did.”
Another candidate at the 5? Brooklyn’s resident All-NBA level jack of all trades, Ben Simmons. Though he sparsely played center in his four NBA seasons, he’s no longer on a team whose best player is a nominal big man.
“One hundred percent, said Nash to a question about Simmons playing the 5. “He can play point guard, he can play center. Very versatile player...
“It looks to me like he’s pretty close to the player we envisioned. He’s going to make a big impact for us.”
Morris also praised what he’s seen so far from Simmons who he said looks “great,” like the player he was in Philadelphia the four years he played there before holding out last year. Morris added, “he’s strong as hell.”
And once again, people were watching Simmons shoot three’s.
He’s made five in his career.
- Steve Nash puts Nets’ Kevin Durant tensions behind him: ‘Families have issues’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Veteran Markieff Morris hoping to help Nets repair ‘soft’ reputation - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash says he’s cleared the air with Kevin Durant after tumultuous summer - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Steve Nash, Kevin Durant patch up differences as Nets training camp begins - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Nets Notebook: Ben Simmons ‘strong as hell’ in Day 1 of training camp - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Steve Nash says relationship with Kevin Durant is fine: ‘Families have issues’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Markieff Morris said the Nets were soft last year — and he’s here to change that - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets coach Steve Nash said Kevin Durant’s ultimatum ‘didn’t really bother’ him - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Nash downplays drama around Kevin Durant’s demands of Nets - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Markieff Morris on dealing with team drama and if Brooklyn has championship talent (Video) - SNY
- Nets head coach Steve Nash talks about his relationship with Kevin Durant (Video) - SNY
- Nets’ Steve Nash Didn’t Think Reports of Kevin Durant Ultimatum Were ‘100% Accurate’ - Erin Walsh - Bleacher Report
- Nets Coach Steve Nash Discusses Kevin Durant, Offseason Drama - Wilton Jackson - Sports Illustrated