The Brooklyn Nets and Steve Nash’s decision to part ways on Tuesday “shocked” Kevin Durant, the sharpshooter said following the team’s 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Jacque Vaughn was named the interim coach replacing Nash for the game, and Durant was among those who was asked about the departure.
“You’re always shocked when a move like this happens,” Durant said, via ESPN. “But it’s normal in the NBA. It’s about getting ready for the game tonight. It’s a quick turn always in the league, especially during the season. You’ve got practice, games coming up, so you can’t think too much about it. It was on my mind for a little bit today.”
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Durant, who scored 32 points on 9-of-16 shooting, added: “I mean, let’s be real. We’re pros. We’re veterans. You know, we had a tough start a rocky year, last year, rocky summer. We knew that everybody was being evaluated. That’s just how it is in the league.”
Joe Harris added he was a bit surprised the decision was made seven games into the season.
“I think everybody was really surprised, it’s still so early in the year,” Harris said, via SNY. “You play so many games in an NBA season, where – even if you’re struggling as a team, individually, whatever it is – you know you have a lot of games to fight and claw your way back. So, certainly, a surprise given the timing of it.”
Durant described the last few years as a “roller coaster.” When he initially joined the team, Kenny Atkinson was still the head coach. Atkinson led the Nets to the playoffs without Durant or Kyrie Irving in the organization. Vaughn would take over after the dismissal and later Nash would join the team.
“I like working with Steve, I like working with the coaching staff, it was a roller coaster the last few years,” Durant said. “… But, the core of it, basketball is something that we all love to do. Regardless of who the coach, regardless of the circumstances you still gotta come to work, so I enjoyed coming to work with Steve.”
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Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks addressed Nash’s departure before the game. He said he and Nash had been talking for a week, maybe longer, before arriving at the decision it was time for a change.
“It was certainly trending that way and to be quite frank the team was not doing what it was supposed to be doing,” Marks said. “We’ve fallen from our goals and of meeting our goals, and it was time now because we still have lofty aspirations of where we need get to.”
Marks said the decision was made without consultation from players.
Rumors circulated immediately after Nash’s departure about the possibility of the team hiring suspended Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka as his replacement, but Marks said nothing has been decided.
“But I would say I will reserve that for when those decisions are made, and I couldn’t give you a timeline on that,” Marks said. “Obviously there’s a reason why we made this move when we did, because time is ticking. So we do want this process to be a thorough one, we’re not going to skip steps on that, and then we’ll do our due diligence like in any way. When I was hired, when anybody was hired the organization does very, very thorough due diligence on anybody, and you arrive at the best possible outcome.”
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Nash was 92-62 as Brooklyn’s coach in the regular season and the playoffs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.