Nets head coach Steve Nash said “there is no baggage or remnants” from a chaotic offseason that included star forward Kevin Durant calling for his job.
Months after Durant issued an ultimatum to Nets owner Joe Tsai — demanding Tsai fire both Nash and general manager Sean Marks or trade him to another team — Nash downplayed the severity of the issue when asked by his hometown Canadian media.
“I think from the outside, it can be such a hot issue, and one can dramatize it. From the inside, this stuff happens all the time throughout the league,” he said ahead of tipoff against the Raptors on Friday. “We kind of have short memories and then we get into the next drama. For me, it’s always: This is part of the NBA. It happens all the time.”
Nash said he never felt like his job was truly in danger. It never was because immediately after reports of Durant’s ultimatum surfaced, Tsai tweeted support for both his front office and coaching staff.
“It was just: We needed to sit down at some point. That was it,” Nash said. “That’s kind of what happened.”
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who has a relationship with Nash that spans several decades, said he felt for his friend while he was temporarily in the hot seat.
“When there’s a guy you know, for sure [there’s more empathy],” Nurse said. “You always pay a little more attention when it’s somebody you consider a friend. It’s hard. This job is hard, right? This profession is hard, and that stuff just makes it harder, but I think he’s, I think he’s handled it with great composure and class and all that kind of stuff, and he’s still fighting.”
Nash said the offseason drama hasn’t spilled into the locker room, even though the Nets project to get off to a rough start. They are folding in a new offense, welcoming Ben Simmons back from a 470-day layoff, and meshing together new players who haven’t played much together.
“I would say our environment has been outstanding. We’re a team that needs time. We’ve got a real addition to the team that is coming off a year and a half of non-NBA basketball and back surgery,” he said of Simmons. “We’ve got a bunch of guys trying to learn to play together, but inside our facility, we feel really good about what we’re building and the guys have been exceptional.
“So, there’s no baggage or remnants every day at work if that makes sense, but I’m sure from the outside, people always wonder how, but that’s what it’s like in the NBA. We go through periods and patches like that. We’re all competitive. There’s outside noise and pressure. You lose in the playoffs and we all struggle with that. That’s part of it. Maybe it’s hard to understand for someone who is not in the building every day. but we’ve had a really great preseason and laid the foundation. And we just need now to get that amount of time under our belt to where it comes to life, and hopefully not take too long so we can get some joy on the way as well.”