NBA

Durant 'shocked' by Nets decision to fire Nash

By Sports Desk November 02, 2022

Kevin Durant reportedly pushed for Steve Nash's removal as Brooklyn Nets head coach in the off-season but says he was "shocked" when he found out about his firing on Tuesday.

The Nets confirmed on Tuesday they had mutually agreed to part ways after a 2-5 start to the season, made worse by the 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls later that day.

It was widely reported Durant had issued Nets owner Joe Tsai with an ultimatum in an unsettled off-season at the Barclays Center, either trade him or fire Nash and general manager Sean Marks.

Yet Durant, who said he learned the news of Nash's firing on ESPN after waking up from a nap on Tuesday, insisted he was taken aback when he found out and shrugged off questions about whether he was consulted.

"You're always shocked when a move like this happens, but it's normal in the NBA," Durant told reporters after Tuesday's loss.

"You've got practice, games coming up, so you can't think too much about it. It was on my mind for a little bit today."

Nash had taken over at the Nets in September 2020, taking the side to the Conference Semifinals in 2020-21 with their 'big three' of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

But the Nets struggled in 2021-22 and swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Boston Celtics, amid a difficult season that saw Irving largely ineligible due to his vaccination status and Harden traded.

"Let's be real, we're pros, we're veterans," Durant added. "We had a tough start. It was a rocky year last year, rocky summer. We knew that everybody was being evaluated.

"That's just how it is in the league. So I liked working with Steve. I like working with the coaching staff. It was a roller coaster the last few years, but the core of it - basketball - is something we all love to do. Regardless of who the coach [is], regardless of the circumstances, you still got to come to work. I enjoyed coming to work with Steve."

Nash's firing comes in the midst of the franchise's latest off-court issue surrounding Irving facing widespread backlash for sharing a film on social media with alleged anti-Semitic connotations.

Durant insisted that there was not too much volatility around the Nets.

"That's the NBA," Durant said. "Everybody's got volatility if you want to look at it.

"It's just a matter of - outside people might look at what we do as bigger than what it is, but we come to work every single day.

"Guys have asked for trades before, coaches get fired, we have disagreements in our locker room, it happens in the NBA. But at the end of the day we all came to work. It just didn't work out on the floor."

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    Vaughn was dismissed on Monday after the Nets lost 136-86 to the Boston Celtics last week, leaving Brooklyn at 21-33 and 11th in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break.

    The Nets had made the postseason in the last five seasons, but a 6-18 run has left the team with it all to do if they are to keep their playoff streak going.

    Nets general manager Sean Marks pointed to a perceived lack of effort as one area that must be fixed by the new head coach.

    "It's about the level of compete," Marks told reporters. "We're not going to be the most talented team in the league. I'm not an idiot. I totally understand that.

    "But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.

    "These are things that should be expected when you're in a place that we're at right now, where we're clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That's what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that's probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven't seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there."

    Many pointed to the Nets' 144-122 defeat against the Milwaukee Bucks as the reason for Vaughn's firing. The Nets were fined $100,000 for violating the NBA's player participation policy after choosing to both rest and sit a number of key players.

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    "I appreciate the fact that players want to play. They want to play night in and night out.

    "Again, I don't think there was one decision that ultimately affected the record or [making] this decision this day. I think a lot of things went into that."

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    Brooklyn is 21-33 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, but the club is only 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for a spot in the Play-In Tournament.

    The Nets said “an interim head coach will be named in the near future.”

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    Vaughn was promoted to head coach early last season following the dismissal of Steve Nash after Brooklyn opened with five losses in seven games.

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