Ime Udoka is Nets’ 'last ditch effort', imminent hiring has signoff of Tsai family
Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporters Vincent Goodwill and Jake Fischer break down Brooklyn’s decision to move on from Steve Nash, the expected hiring of Ime Udoka and how the choice to bring in the suspended head coach rises to the top of the organization.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Vince Goodwill, Jake Fischer here with you at Yahoo Sports. Jake, let's get right to it. You were at Barclays last night, Steve Nash out, maybe Ime Udoka in. The Nets lost a spirited early-- they had a spirited start to the game, but it sort of fizzled out late against the Bulls. What did you see? What did you hear? How did you take in the scene at Barclays last night?
JAKE FISCHER: The scene at Barclays honestly was startlingly unstartled. Like, it's just another day at the office for a whirlwind three years of this franchise, where we've seen coaches fired before. We've seen multiple All-Stars with trade requests. It's been kind of a tale of the tape here.
So honestly, I was surprised by the lack of shock and lack of surprise that was in that building last night. And you said maybe hiring Ime Udoka-- it certainly seems to be a foregone conclusion here. There's final hurdles to be cleared. And there's contract negotiations to be had. But by all accounts, he is going to be the next head coach of these Brooklyn Nets.
VINCENT GOODWILL: I'm shocked a little bit, just the fact that Ime Udoka has such a stain on him right now. If this were a year from now, or if the Nets said, hey, we're going to let Jacque Vaughn go through the year. We're going to hire you after the year is over.
But they're jumping right into it. And he's going to have to answer questions. Assuming Kyrie Irving comes back, he's going to have to answer questions. It's just going to be a weird situation in a sport-- a team that doesn't need-- that can't afford, you know what I mean, Jake? They can't afford to have more weird situations.
That's why I wrote they should trade Kevin Durant. Because nothing, to me, that has happened-- if Kevin Durant wanted out over the summer for various reasons, there is nothing to me that has illustrated over the first eight games, that has said, you know what? I kind of want to stay here. And I don't think that Ime Udoka's going to make it better, or that much better to the point that they'll actually be able to be a championship contender.
JAKE FISCHER: This clearly shows that Sean Marks's regime and this current iteration of the Nets management structure, this is their last-ditch effort. They really think and really do believe that of all the candidates that are available, from Quin Snyder, who still had two years remaining on his deal in Utah, but could have figured out a way to get him on board here, to anybody else, Ime Udoka, regardless of the pall hanging over him, especially during all this Kyrie saga, he is their choice. He is the guy that they believe gives them the best chance of winning a championship with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. And if that's the case, I think that's all you need to know to really spell out just the precarious footing that stands in this current Brooklyn tenure.
VINCENT GOODWILL: I wonder how this got past Clara Tsai. Because we know how involved she has been with the Liberty. We know how involved she has been with women's issues. And from everything that I had heard, I had heard that Steve Nash probably would have gotten fired Sunday if not for the Kyrie Irving debacle on Saturday night.
And the fact that Kyrie Irving still hasn't spoken to the media, is not going to speak to the media for the next few days, lets me know that there is no back down from Kyrie Irving in terms of his approach, and in terms of what he sees, in terms of him being offensive and not viewing himself as offensive or anti-Semitic. Like, it just seems like it's a wild roller coaster that's not going to end anytime soon.
JAKE FISCHER: Yeah, my reporting said the same thing, that there was clearly plans of removing Steve Nash prior to tip-off of Monday night's game against the Pacers. And I don't know precisely why it didn't happen then. But clearly, there's been enough of a circus and a roller coaster going on where the inevitable got delayed momentarily.
I have been told that this support, the stamp of Ime Udoka, goes up to the ownership level of Joe and Clara Tsai, and that they've been doing due diligence, whatever that entails, on Udoka's background from the moment he was suspended in Boston, being that when Kevin Durant lobbies for Steve Nash to be fired during the offseason, and then the team is set up to potentially have a slow start with Ben Simmons not fully back in form and a new roster coming together, they were quietly preparing a list of best available candidates in the event this emerged.
And throughout that process, Ime Udoka, from Sean Marks to both sides, both Joe and Clara Tsai, I have been told they believe in Udoka's character. They believe that he is the person to maximize Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving after his season under Steve Nash in 2020, 2021, and Simmons as well, having overlapped with him in Philadelphia the year before he arrived in Brooklyn. And now, we're going to see if this really is the missing piece, or else honestly, wholesale changes are more than likely to occur.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah, this is just the beginning, unfortunately.