Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks addressed the media Tuesday following the team’s announcement of the firing of head coach Steve Nash.
The Nets are 2-5 through their first seven games. Brooklyn ranks 29th in defensive rating and 16th in offensive rating while posting the fourth-worst per-game point differential (-6.4) in the NBA this season. Marks, who shares a 20-plus year relationship with Nash, said it was obvious the team needed a coaching change.
“To be quite frank, the team was not doing what it was supposed to be doing,” the general manager said. “We have fallen from our goals, from meeting our goals, and it was time now because we still have lofty aspirations of where we need to get to.”
Nash’s firing comes two months after Kevin Durant issued an August ultimatum to owner Joe Tsai, calling for both Nash and Marks to be let go. There were widespread doubts about the third-year coach’s ability to command the locker room following an unprecedented move from his best player. And Marks said Nash was honest about the players’ response to his coaching early this season.
“Steve and I talked daily if not hourly,” Marks said. “And when we’re having these conversations he was aware of, ‘Hey, they’re not responding to me right now’. So over the course of the last week, last 10 days, we’ve been talking and talking and I think it came to a head.”
"When we're having these conversations, he's aware of, 'Hey, they're not responding to me right now' or 'That was not the performance I needed to see out there.'"
Sean Marks on what Steve Nash told him after last night's win over the Pacers
(via @erikslater_) pic.twitter.com/W2K9Losjrk
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 1, 2022
Despite their slow start to the season, Brooklyn still boasts one of the most talented rosters in the NBA. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are the only duo in the league each averaging 30-plus points per game this season. Ben Simmons, the Nets’ supposed third star, is still recovering from offseason surgery, as are Joe Harris, Seth Curry and T.J. Warren.
Sean Marks suggested during Tuesday’s press conference that the move to part ways with Steve Nash is indicative of his belief in Brooklyn’s championship potential.
“We do realize, I’m going to be honest, we have a window here,” he said. “When we have this group of players and this salary cap and where we are, we hope to achieve (a championship).”
Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski both reported that Brooklyn plans to hire former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka to replace Nash. Despite this, Marks said the Nets have “absolutely not” made a decision on their next head coach.
The Brooklyn Nets plan to hire Ime Udoka as their new head coach, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Boston granted the Nets permission to speak to Udoka and will allow him to leave freely, sources said. https://t.co/lFeHY8hUiS
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 1, 2022
Udoka served as an assistant on Brooklyn’s staff during the 2020-21 season before leaving for Boston’s head-coaching job. In his first season as head coach, he led Boston to a 51-31 record and the franchise’s first Eastern Conference title since 2010.
The Celtics suspended the head coach for the entire 2022-23 season for violations of team policies. It was later revealed that Udoka had an inappropriate intimate relationship with a female staff member. Several reports have indicated Boston will let Udoka leave without seeking compensation.
The 45-year-old possesses a strong defensive background, serving as defensive coordinator for the 76ers and Nets before landing in Boston. For a Brooklyn team that is allowing an Eastern Conference-worst 120.3 points per game, Udoka’s defensive prowess is a logical attribute the team should be looking for in a head coach.
While Marks denied the reports of Brooklyn’s agreement with Udoka, he did say that whoever lands the position will provide a spark for the Nets as they look to return to the championship conversation.
“There’s been plenty of teams that at one point looked a certain way and made some moves and they changed,” Marks said. “We hope to be one of those teams, and by arising at the decision we will in the next few days hopefully that will be a catalyst for a turnaround.”