Nets Rumors: Steve Nash 'Likely to Avoid' Being Fired; Kevin Durant Still Supports HC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 25, 2022

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash points during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.

Assuming the Brooklyn Nets are unable to overturn a 3-0 series deficit, head coach Steve Nash may not be the scapegoat for the team's first-round exit in the NBA playoffs.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported Monday that he spoke to a source who said Nash "is likely to avoid being rendered management's fall guy for the Nets' meek playoff showing, noting how much madness (and, frankly, absurdity) that the former Hall of Fame point guard faced during his second season as a head coach."

According to Stein, Nash doesn't yet appear to have lost the faith of two key figures within the organization—governor Joe Tsai and star Kevin Durant:

"My personal sense is that Nets owner Joe Tsai is far too impulsive and unpredictable to read in terms of how he'll react to a lopsided first-round ouster. Nash landed the Nets' job with no prior coaching experience largely because he had the backing of Kevin Durant as well as the gravitas to manage a team built around the mercurial Durant and Kyrie Irving. There is no evidence in circulation—yet—to suggest that Nash is in some sort of jeopardy ... as long as he retains the support of Tsai and (more importantly) Durant."

Someone typically gets fired when a team experiences the kind of disappointment Brooklyn is all but destined to suffer this year.

From the moment Durant was healthy enough to suit up, it was a championship-or-bust mindset for the Nets, and the acquisition of James Harden last season cemented those lofty aims. Now, the franchise may have little to show from KD's first two years on the court.

In situations like these, a coaching change is made because it's the easiest lever to pull.

Frank Vogel didn't really deserve to get fired for the Los Angeles Lakers' 11th-place finish, but what else was the organization going to do when it's so boxed in with the current roster?

The Nets have the same dilemma to a certain degree.

Trading for Harden meant doubling down on a star-laden squad, and flipping him for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks might have left them even worse off.

nick wright @getnickwright

A shocking number of my colleagues called the Harden-Simmons swap a clear win for *the Nets*. I know this because it almost drove my guy <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamLefkoe?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdamLefkoe</a> clinically insane.<br><br>Harden hasn't even played well &amp; it's an utter rout in the Sixers direction.

They're pot committed with Durant and Irving, the latter of whom is eligible to become a free agent.

Breaking up the KD-Kyrie partnership probably isn't happening. It's difficult to envision a scenario in which Brooklyn lets Irving sign elsewhere or executes a sign-and-trade where it gets equal value in return.

If the on-court personnel can't be dramatically reshuffled, then one plan of attack for 2022-23 would be to hope a different coach can get something else out of the players.

bomani @bomani_jones

through three seasons, this experiment has been an indisputable failure. somebody's gonna pay for that. someone *has* to pay for it. maybe it's sad for nash, but it's gotta be him. there's no other option. <a href="https://t.co/AJoZqvH4MX">https://t.co/AJoZqvH4MX</a>

That would unquestionably be an unfair outcome for Nash.

The 48-year-old wasn't responsible for the Harden trade, the ongoing Simmons saga or for Irving's decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, which left Brooklyn without one of its best players for a large chunk of this season.

The entire idea of riding Durant and Irving to a championship might have been flawed from the outset. Durant was coming off a major Achilles injury and is not getting any younger. Irving, meanwhile, has battled injuries throughout his career. He missed the final three games of the conference semifinals last year because of a sprained ankle.

Stein described the 2021-22 campaign as "an organizational failure," which accurately describes the totality of blame to be dispersed.

If Nash is retained, one wonders what changes Brooklyn will make—no matter how small—because maintaining the status quo might be a recipe for disaster.