Sixteen years ago, Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash united to transform the NBA. With D’Antoni coaching and Nash playing point guard, the Suns pushed the pace, spread the floor by shooting 3-pointers and ran a lot of pick-and-roll. Phoenix became the archetype of modern offense.
Eight years ago, D’Antoni and Nash reunited on the Lakers. D’Antoni struggled to get Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard to buy in. Nash, beset by injury, was on the tail end of his career. It was a miserable experience.
What will Nash and D’Antoni do in their third act together?
The Nets are hiring D’Antoni (as rumored) and former 76ers and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka as assistant coaches on Nash’s staff.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Brooklyn has built one heck of a coaching staff. Nash was a splashy hire. The Nets also retained interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, a former Magic head coach, as lead assistant. That puts D’Antoni third in command and Udoka fourth. Former Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire is somewhere down the line. And Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will have their turns as head coaches.
How will Nash manage it all?
Maybe he has the leadership ability and emotional intelligence to handle the egos involved. It’ll be tricky, though.
D’Antoni quit as Rockets head coach and was once considered frontrunner with both the 76ers and Pacers this offseason. When leaving Houston, he had to believe he’d land a more-prominent job than this. His dynamic with Nash is also now flipped from their prior time together.
Udoka was once favored to become the Bulls head coach this offseason. He had a higher-profile role on Brett Brown’s staff in Philadelphia last year.
The Nets’ money must have been right.
Now, they must hope this goes better than the last time they hired a head coach with no prior coaching experience and gave him an assistant with extensive head-coaching experience.