Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash has signed a four-year contract to become the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets, sources told ESPN.
The Nets announced the hiring Thursday morning.
In recent weeks, Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks have been aggressive in recruiting Nash to make the leap to head coaching that he had so far resisted in retirement after his transcendent playing career.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Marks said in a news release. “In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players. I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His instincts for the game, combined with an inherent ability to communicate with and unite players towards a common goal, will prepare us to compete at the highest levels of the league.”
Nash, 46, comes with no coaching experience, but he has a history of leadership and playing innovation. He also brings a strong relationship with Nets star Kevin Durant, forged when Nash was a consultant role for the Golden State Warriors.
The Nets announced they are keeping Jacque Vaughn as the lead assistant coach; they are making him the highest-paid assistant in the league, sources said.
Vaughn made a strong impression on Tsai and Marks after taking over for Kenny Atkinson in February, including during the league’s restart in Orlando, Florida. He likely would’ve been the Nets’ choice had Nash been unconvinced of taking the job, sources said.
“We are thrilled to retain Jacque as a leading member of our coaching staff,” Marks said in the news release. “Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization. His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable. Our players will benefit from the continuity of Jacque’s presence, and we are extremely fortunate to keep him in our Nets family.”
As a consultant in the Warriors organization since 2015, Nash built a relationship with Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP for Golden State. Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, also was among the best ever to play point guard, Nets star Kyrie Irving’s position.
“He’s someone I can talk to about anything and somebody I really respect. His basketball mind is probably the best I’ve been around,” Durant told the San Jose Mercury News in 2018. “He tries to simplify the game and keep me conscious of those things as well. It’s simplifying and keeping it as easy for yourself. I’ve learned so much. So many people taught me how to play. He’s continued to teach me different things I can put in my game. I’m very grateful for him and happy for him.”
Marks was a teammate of Nash with the Suns, and he has kept a good relationship with him through the years.
In a statement released by the Nets, Nash said: “I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe and his wife, Clara, for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward. Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn. I am as excited about the prospects of the team on the court as I am about moving to Brooklyn with my family and becoming impactful members of this community.”
Nash has been pursued in several capacities since his retirement in 2015, including front-office and head-coaching opportunities, sources said.