NEW YORK — It’s simple to get misplaced in the sea of personalities, storylines and All-Star skills employed by the Brooklyn Nets, so Steve Nash can naturally function on the periphery if he chooses.
It’s typically stated one locker room cannot maintain however a lot persona, there should be a particular combine and a gentle conductor to carry all of it collectively — notably in right now’s NBA.
Nash would not have a commanding, domineering presence or booming voice that may cease folks of their tracks. His present, in changing into one among the defining gamers in his period, was his effectivity and delicate toughness.
That ought to assist him in coaching the Nets, retaining them on target all through the nine-month grind. But they want drive, utilized stress and a few discomfort that is not surrounded by nonsense.
Nash would not have a signature trait as a coach, one thing that will work if one performed a sport of phrase affiliation. That steely-eyed strategy, wiping his hair again or consistently licking his fingers before operating performs, belied his grit and a motor that by no means stopped probing for solutions in opposition to a few of the NBA’s hardest defenses.
That similar look he possesses on the sideline offers the look of a bewildered and infrequently overmatched coach, nearly like a substitute trainer in a room stuffed with rambunctious and hormonal youngsters wading by way of highschool.
So fleeting was his impression on the Nets, Kevin Durant requested Nash be fired as coach throughout his “commerce me” saga over the summer season, together with Durant wanting Sean Marks eliminated as group architect.
Nash downplayed the reporting, saying on the first day of coaching camp, “I by no means thought that was 100%. It’s not black and white like that. There’s a variety of elements, a variety of issues behind the scenes.”
Was it 90 % true Durant wished him gone? Or 85 %? It’s onerous to say, contemplating Nash might be slick at occasions in the title of preservation. He issued every day denials on James Harden’s commerce availability in the days main to final season’s deadline, although it was clear there was smoke between the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
There was no candy spot, no pocket cross to Amare Stoudemire for a flying dunk, that Nash might’ve taken in both occasion that will fulfill the public. In some methods, he is a product of circumstance and elements he has little or no management in, so full transparency is not seemingly.
However, it continues the notion of issues taking place round Nash as opposed to him being a catalyst. As gifted as Durant is, as a lot as he is a generational expertise and nonetheless the baddest man strolling, he is not an anchor.
And everyone knows it isn’t Kyrie Irving or Ben Simmons.
Durant is not as wobbly as portrayed, nevertheless it’s clear the Nets franchise wants somebody steady and vocal, somebody who speaks with authority and readability. Someone who instructions respect and belief — however to be honest, it is onerous to level out a soul Irving has trusted absolutely and persistently on the sidelines.
It’s even onerous to consider Nash on the foundation of a roster as a result of a lot of the focus is on tradition as opposed to precise basketball technique. Can Irving be a successful participant on this setup? Can Simmons — if he performs — alleviate playmaking tasks from each to maximize them as scorers?
Do the Nets have sufficient measurement at the rim, and even girth?
On one hand, the Nets have been in the East before Durant’s MCL harm round the first of the yr, even with all the points surrounding the group. Did Nash have a gentle hand then, his steering rocked by circumstances that will’ve rocked the finest coaches in the sport?
It did not appear like it, when Harden acted up to get out, Irving was apparently staging practices after Nash ran his and the season resulted in a four-game thud, the Nets the solely group swept in the first spherical.
Unfortunately in sports activities, the outcomes dictate the effectiveness of 1’s strategy. So Nash’s strategy, whereas showing prudent in his thoughts, wasn’t the proper one.
And there isn’t any playbook in coping with the major characters in the Nets locker room, so Nash might have an inconceivable process on a superb day.
Marks can play cute with the phrases and say he is not Durant’s boss, that they are in a partnership — backed up by the Nets issuing a press release weeks in the past declaring Durant was rescinding his commerce demand and returning to the Nets, with Durant’s enterprise enterprise brand emblazoned at the backside of the web page.
But Nash would not have that luxurious, particularly when he should ship the every day gospel of the Nets. Responding to the newest chapter in the e-book of Kyrie or deciphering Durant’s moods and needs is Nash’s duty, not Marks’.
It’s Nash’s first coaching job, however he is in his third yr on this specific ecosystem. On media day, he poignantly acknowledged that he “is aware of” Durant, relationship again to Nash’s time in Golden State when he was a guide.
His Hall of Fame profession offers him the data that craziness is usually a requisite in the NBA, a lot of it unreported even when it is detected by way of surges and slumps. So he might be believed and trusted when he seems not to take any of this personally.
But that does not imply he mustn’t put his stamp on a group that desperately wants one. It’s truly his job.
He’s in all probability discovered extra about coaching and his personal demeanor in these first two treacherous seasons which have allowed Marks to add personnel to cowl these blind spots — if one chooses to be so optimistic.
At no level by way of Nash’s tenure has he challenged his gamers in such a method to make them really feel uncomfortable, maybe as a result of he is aware of he is not as skilled as different coaching contenders.
Perhaps being a little bit uncomfortable himself is what’s crucial for progress and evolution, and discovering his coaching voice will assist the Nets find an id that is not tied to drama, inactivity or immature, ill-informed social media posts.
All we all know is that nothing has labored thus far and the clock is ticking for Durant and Marks, for Irving and Simmons.
And for the understated Steve Nash, too.