Kevin Durant reportedly pushed for the removal of Steve Nash as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets in the off-season, but said he was “shocked” when he found out about his dismissal on Tuesday.
The Nets confirmed Tuesday that they have mutually agreed to split after a 2-5 start to the season, compounded by a 108-99 defeat to the Chicago Bulls later that day.
It was widely reported that Durant had issued Nets owner Joe Tsai with an ultimatum in a volatile off-season at Barclays Center, swapping it or firing Nash and general manager Sean Marks.
Yet Durant, who said he learned the news of Nash’s dismissal on ESPN after waking up from a nap on Tuesday, insisted he was taken aback when he found out and ignored questions about whether he had been consulted.
“You’re always shocked when such a move happens, but it’s normal in the NBA,” Durant told reporters after Tuesday’s defeat.
“You’ve got practice, games coming up, so you can’t think about it too much. It was on my mind for a while today.”
Nash took over from the Nets in September 2020, taking the team to the Conference semifinals in 2020-21 with their “big three” of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
But the Nets struggled in 2021-22 and were swept away from the first-round playoffs by the Boston Celtics, in a tough season that saw Irving largely unfit due to his vaccination status and Harden traded.
“We are realistic, we are professionals, we are veterans,” Durant added. “We had a difficult start. Last year was a difficult year, a difficult summer. We knew everyone was being evaluated.
“That’s just how it is in the league. So I enjoyed working with Steve. I enjoy working with the coaching staff. It’s been a roller coaster in recent years, but the core of it all – basketball – is something we all love to do. Independently who is the coach [is], regardless of the circumstances, you still have to come to work. I enjoyed coming to work with Steve. “
Nash’s firing comes in the midst of the franchise’s latest off-pitch issue surrounding Irving facing widespread backlash for sharing a movie on social media with alleged anti-Semitic connotations.
Durant insisted there wasn’t too much volatility around the Nets.
“This is the NBA,” Durant said. “Everyone has volatility if you want to watch it.
“It’s just a matter of – outsiders might consider what we do as bigger than it is, but we come to work every single day.
“The guys have asked for exchanges earlier, the coaches are fired, we have disagreements in our locker room, it happens in the NBA. But in the end we all came to work. It just didn’t work out on the floor.”