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Steve Nash scores against Kyrie Irving (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Nets Name Hall Of Fame Point Guard Steve Nash Head Coach

Steve Nash scores against Kyrie Irving (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ASSOCIATED PRESS – The Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash as their coach Thursday, putting the Hall of Fame point guard in charge of the team that hopes to have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together next season.

Nash, two-time MVP as the engineer of the high-scoring Phoenix Suns teams under Mike D’Antoni, had been a player development consultant with Golden State, where he worked with Durant.

“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,” Nash said in a statement.

The Nets finished the season under Jacque Vaughn, who they said would remain on staff as Nash’s lead assistant.

The Nets reached the postseason despite having Irving for only 20 games and Durant for none, but the two stars who came to Brooklyn together last summer are expected to be ready for the 2020-21 season.

That made the Nets vacancy an attractive position, and general manager Sean Marks said he met with a number of highly accomplished candidates. There was even speculation the Nets would try to entice Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, for whom Marks played and then worked under in San Antonio.

Instead, Marks turned to one of his former teammates.

“In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players,” Marks said. “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.”

Vaughn finished up the season after the Nets surprisingly parted ways with Kenny Atkinson on March 7. He led Brooklyn to the No. 7 in the Eastern Conference despite coming to the restarted season in Disney without many of his top players and Marks had indicated he would be a candidate to keep the job.

Instead, he goes back to his former position as a Nets assistant.

“Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization,” Marks added. “His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable.

Controversy Over Nets Nash Hiring

Nash’s hiring doesn’t come without controversy. The Hall of Famers was hired with no prior full-time coaching experience, despite his long NBA career. In a league that is predominantly African American, 21 of the league’s 30 NBA coaches are caucasian.

In the latest round of coaching movement, Alvin Gentry of the New Orleans Pelicans, Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers, and the Nets Vaughn, each of whom are Black, were released or demoted.

Some analysts, including former Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker, questioned the optics of the Nets decision.

“Definitely happy for Steve Nash but super disappointed in the @BrooklynNets,” Booker tweeted. “So many well qualified African American candidates and they get looked over by someone with no experience at all. The only reason they felt comfortable doing that is bc JV stayed onboard as the top asst.”

The Pacers, Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, and Philadelphia 76ers head coaching positions remain vacant.