The Brooklyn Nets’ disastrous start to the season has claimed its first casualty with coach Steve Nash shown the door.
The Nets fired Nash on Wednesday (all times AEDT) amid a disappointing 2-5 start that has been marred by off-court drama, including Kyrie Irving’s social media promotion of an anti-Semitic film.
The team’s interim head coach is Jacque Vaughn.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania both reported that the Nets plan to hire Udoka to replace Nash.
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SEE ALSO: Irving struggles, slammed as idiot after Antisemitic controversy
Wojnarowski added that the Celtics would allow Udoka to leave for a different job. Yahoo Sports added that the Celtics would not seek compensation for the scandal-scarred coach.
Udoka was an assistant on the Nets two years ago; last year, in his first season as Celtics head coach, Boston reached the NBA Finals.
“This says to me they think Udoka is the guy who can make it work with this mess they currently have,” The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor told The Mismatch podcast.
“But I don’t think just changing the coach is enough to overcome what this team is in right now.”
The move comes amid reports in the off-season that Kevin Durant wanted Nash gone.
News of the sacking set the NBA world alight.
ESPN’s Stephen. A. Smith called for the nonsense to end.
“Sad to see Steve Nash go from the Brooklyn Nets — but he was put in an impossible situation. Now they need to go get Ime Udoka asap,” he tweeted.
“Like right now!!! Since the Celtics don’t want him coaching their team.
“Then the nonsense will end.”
Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, meanwhile, said the Nets needed to blow things up and trade Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant, who signed a four-year $303m AUD extension, dropped a bombshell on the Nets in the off-season when he demanded a trade only for the Nets to hold their ground.
Kyrie blows up at journo in wild presser | 02:00
Irving, meanwhile, opted in to a $56 million AUD extension in the off-season.
“They are going to try and keep this together, what they should do is tear it apart,” Goodwill said.
“It’s time for Kevin Durant to be traded.
“Now with the Nets a two and five and looking like a completely inconsistent outfit there is no path to the championship, there’s no path for them to complete
“You’re best move, especially while Kyrie Irving sets fire to everything, is to release Kyrie, set Kevin Durant free and start rebuilding.
“Trade him for draft picks. Remember they don’t have any because of virtue of that James Harden deal.”
New York Post beat reporter Brian Lewis said it was only ever going to be a matter of time before Nash was sacked.
“I would say Kevin (Durant) gets what Kevin wants, eventually, one way or another, sooner or later,” he said on Wednesday.
“I would say it was pretty much inevitable once he decided this was the direction he wanted the team to go.
Lewis was then questioned on whether the Nets could embark on a rebuild with the season unravelling.
“I’m not sure that they are there yet. Upper management has invested a lot and moving Kevin Durant and blowing this roster up completely changes, not just the complexion of what they are doing on the court, but the value of the entire franchise.
“I’m not sure how much losing would have to go on before they decide to go in that direction.”
Meanwhile NBA podcaster Chris Vernon also believes the writing was on the wall given Nash’s shaky relationship with Durant after a chaotic off-season where the star forward requested a trade.
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“99 percent of the time in the NBA when you see a coach fired … do you think the best player would have fought against this? The answer is always no, in fact, many times, they are the agent for change,” he said on The Mismatch podcast.
“When we go into this season knowing Durant wasn’t exactly walking arm in arm with Steve Nash, in fact, the direct opposite: ‘I am trying not to play for you.’
“It was doomed from the start.
“Then when you get off to your bad start, you always get into the situation where when things aren’t going to expectation, general managers are going to say: ‘It’s not the roster, the roster is good enough to win.’
“And so as a GM you get to say it’s the coach’s fault once.”
Nash leaves Brooklyn with a 94-67 overall record including just one playoff round win.
Of those 161 games, Durant and Irving played only 64 together, while with James Harden the trio made just 16 appearances together, per StatMuse.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr defended Nash, saying it reflects how important it is to have a good environment.
“(I’m) really lucky. You throw (me) in that situation, (I) wouldn’t have done any better than (Nash),” he told reporters.
“But I also know that if he ever wants to get back in this thing he could be great. He just needs a more stable environment.”
NBA legend Charles Barkley added on NBA TNT: “From a public perception, you let these players run this man off his job because they were acting like fools.
“This is all about Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.
“Steve Nash is just a scapegoat and it’s really unfortunate. I don’t know if Steve Nash is Red Auerbach or whatever.
“This thing was never going to work when he (Irving) said we don’t need a coach.
“Steve Nash is a scapegoat for these players acting like idiots and fools. It’s really starting to be a joke this whole Brooklyn – I mean it’s past being a joke.”
Here’s some of the other reactions to Nash’s firing