When Steve Nash was named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, surrounding the neophyte coach with a ton of quality and experience on the bench was going to be pivotal in helping the team win this year. Being able to pluck Ime Udoka away from the Philadelphia 76ers after he was interviewed for several head coach vacancies last offseason was a tremendously savvy move.
In addition to Udoka, Nash was able to delegate schematic responsibilities to two of his other top assistants, with Nash’s former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni taking on a ton of responsibility for creating the offense while Jacque Vaughn, who the Nets interviewed before hiring Nash, handled the defense.
While the Nets didn’t win a championship, the fact that Nash was able to have so much success in his first year of coaching is a testament to how this staff was able to come together. Unfortunately, their rivals in the division noticed, and have helped make a huge dent in the depth and quality of this staff.
The Boston Celtics, who moved Brad Stevens to the front office after the departure of Danny Ainge, are finalizing an agreement with Udoka to become the next head coach in Beantown.
If the Nets keep losing assistants like this, they could end up finding it harder to replicate their success.
How will losing Ime Udoka hurt the Brooklyn Nets?
The Toronto Raptors are a good example of how losing so many assistant coaches can hurt your team. Sure, they were playing in Tampa all year, but losing two of their best offensive minds in Nate Bjorkgren and Chris Finch to Indiana and Minnesota, respectively, made it tough for them to play as a cohesive unit.
On top of Udoka already having left for Boston, both D’Antoni and Vaughn have received interviews for other head coaching jobs. D’Antoni was brought back for a second interview with the Portland Trail Blazers after the firing of Terry Stotts, while Vaughn could end up being Stan Van Gundy’s successor with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Nash may be in his second year, but being able to manage all of these egos while fighting through an improved East, all while making sure the schematics are up to date, is a tough task for any coach, and less support around him is only going to make that harder.
Who will replace Ime Udoka with the Brooklyn Nets?
The Nets could look to the ranks of the recently fired in order to add an assistant that can replace Udoka. Perhaps looking at former Blazers coach Terry Stotts or ex-Magic leader Steve Clifford could have some value depending on if the Nets want an offensive or defensive mind to join them on the bench.
The Nets won’t just disintegrate into nothing without Udoka. There is just too much talent on this team for one or two coaches flying the coop to ruin things. However, Nash and the coaching staff helped rescue the Nets in the middle of some rough stretches this season, and it could be tougher to pull off without sharp minds like Udoka on the bench.
The best-case scenario for Brooklyn is that Nash learned enough from his parade of qualified assistants to take a greater role with regard to scheme creation. If he has shown that he can step up while losing some of his trusted assistants and collaborators, the Nets might be able to take the next step in the postseason.
If Nash struggles as he did in the earlier parts of the season, the Nets might once again miss out on the allure of a championship, and they could look to their lack of cohesion as a reason why.