Whether the new 2020-2021 NBA season begins on Christmas or Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two reported launch dates the league is mulling, the Brooklyn Nets will have an interesting look to their coaching staff.
Late last week the Nets announced they would be adding veteran coach Mike D’Antoni and hot head coaching candidate Ime Udoka as assistant coaches, in addition to former player Amar’e Stoudemire as a player development assistant to join rookie head coach Steve Nash’s staff.
The Nets had previously announced they would be retaining Jacque Vaughn, who was Brooklyn’s interim head coach after Kenny Atkinson’s sudden dismissal in March. The group will be rounded out by assistant coach and director of player development Adam Harrington, assistant coach Jordan Ott, assistant coach/player development Tiago Splitter, and player development coordinator Ryan Forehan-Kelly.
“We’ve assembled an experienced staff of high-character individuals with varied backgrounds, both on and off the court, that will help create a solid foundation for me and our players,” said Nash.
“When I set out to build this staff, I wanted to put together a committed group that would connect with our players, and help put them in the best position to succeed as a team,” the Hall of Fame point guard added. “With coaching and playing experience at the highest level, and a deep background in player development, I’m confident that we’ve put the right people in place to lead us forward.”
Adding D’Antoni to Nash’s staff was a surprising and unexpected move. Early last month, it had been rumored D’Antoni might be hired by the New Orleans Pelicans, Indiana Pacers or the Philadelphia 76ers. But all three of those head coaching vacancies were eventually filled by others. Instead, Nash, who has no professional coaching experience, was able to secure his former coach with the Phoenix Suns.
The 69-year-old D’Antoni’s most recent stint was as the head coach of the Houston Rockets. Along with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, he led the Rockets to the Western Conference semifinals this past season. D’Antoni, whose contract was up with the Rockets and not extended, joined the franchise in 2016, earning a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2018.
D’Antoni’s first NBA head coaching experience was with the Denver Nuggets from 1998-1999. He then led the Suns from 2003-’08. After that, he came to the Knicks in 2008, resigning in 2012. He accepted the Los Angeles Lakers job in 2012 but resigned there too in 2014. named Coach of the Year twice, first in 2005 with the Suns and again in 2017. D’Antoni’s overall regular season record as an NBA head coach is 672-527.
Udoka, who spent 12 years playing both in the NBA and internationally, served as an assistant coach with the 76ers last season. Prior to that, Udoka spent the first seven seasons (2012-’19) of his coaching career as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. He has a ring from their 2014 championship season.