Firing Nash Won’t Make Much Difference

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Nets head coach Steve Nash knew he was on borrowed time as soon as Kevin Durant made his intentions known that he wanted his head coach fired this offseason. A losing streak at any point of this season would have put Nash out of his misery.

The Nets getting off to a 2-5 start did not help the beleaguered head coach’s cause, and Kyrie Irving showing his support for an antisemitic film on Jewish people made everything worse.

When Nash received a call from Nets general manager Sean Marks that he had been relieved of his duties on Tuesday afternoon prior to the Nets game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center, it had to be more of a relief than dread for him.

He doesn’t have to deal with the nonsense from his two overrated stars anymore. He doesn’t have to coach a train wreck anymore. He can collect his money and enjoy his life while he is on a reset.

Rather than feeling sad for him, be happy for him. He never had a shot with this roster. Quite frankly, no one really has a shot.

When the Nets introduce Ime Udoka as the new basketball coach in the coming days, they will hype him up as the guy who can clean up this mess. They will tout his defensive background. They will praise him for earning respect from Durant and Irving, who likely let Nets owner Joe Tsai know he was the guy they wanted to replace Nash. They will rave about his coaching excellence by citing the Celtics sweeping the Nets in the first round this past season and going to the NBA Finals.

This sounds good, but Udoka has plenty of questions to answer himself. He can start by answering why he got suspended by the Boston Celtics this offseason. Then, he and the Nets need to answer why the Celtics were all of sudden happy to let an asset like him go. Finally, he needs to answer why he would demean women and treat women staffers like lower-level workers.

The hiring makes sense, but it doesn’t mean all of this should be forgotten. Hiring him months after he got suspended doesn’t make him think about the mistake he made. It likely made not make him less remorseful. The Nets did the new coach no favors here.

They are so desperate to win and salvage something out of the Durant and Irving era that they picked him to oversee this mess.

Durant and Irving should be able to respond to Udoka by playing much better and playing with urgency. This may not mean much in the end. This is still a flawed basketball team.

The Nets don’t have much toughness in them. Udoka won’t make that much of a difference. Sure he may cajole the guys to put defense first, but he doesn’t have the personnel for it. This is a roster that is built for offense first.

When have Durant and Irving ever played defense? Also, what role players out there can play on defense? Watching this roster in the last two seasons, the guys just stand around and wait for the ball to come to them.

Don’t expect Udoka to make much of a difference on offense. This is still going to be an iso offense. This is definitely not conducive to success no matter how great Durant and Irving are, especially against the elite teams that know how to run an offense effectively.

Then there’s dealing with Ben Simmons and Irving. Two headcases that can’t get out of their own way.

With Simmons, he could be shot as a basketball player. He has not looked good on both sides of the ball. His lack of offense has been well-known, but his defense has gotten so bad. He gets pushed around like a turnstile. He does not know how to guard anymore. He offers nothing. He recently took two games off due to left knee soreness, which is interesting in itself. So not only he can’t play, but he can’t handle the grind already. Talk about damaged goods right there.

Irving is a troubled soul. Yes, he is a special talent, which is why the Nets are tolerating his nonsense such as promoting antisemitism, Alex Jones and other cuckoo stuff that comes out of his mind. But he will always be a distraction, and that will take the life out of a team’s soul. Oh, and it’s a matter of time until he gets hurt. At least, he likely won’t be back next season since he is a free agent and the Nets have had enough of their fill with him, which probably explains why they will weather his recent nonsense.

The Nets should be a playoff team with Udoka. Shoot, they would have been a playoff team with Nash in the sense they would have figured things out on their own.

But it won’t mask their deficiencies in the end.

At least, this is not Nash’s problem anymore. He has his self-respect intact. Good for him.

This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6

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