Mike D’Antoni is finalizing a deal to become an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets, reuniting him with his former MVP point guard, Nets coach Steve Nash, sources told ESPN.
The Nets are hiring D’Antoni and well-regarded assistant Ime Udoka, who spent seven of the past eight seasons on Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs, sources said.
Nash has constructed a strong coaching staff for his first season as a head coach, including associate head coach Jacque Vaughn. The Nets are expected to be among the NBA’s championship contenders with the return of Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn debut of Kevin Durant.
Udoka spent seven years as an assistant under Popovich with the Spurs and the 2019-20 season as the top assistant with Brett Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s been a candidate for several head-coaching jobs in recent years.
For D’Antoni and Nash, this is the third time they’ll be together, including a memorable 2004-08 run with the Phoenix Suns that saw the birth of the Seven Seconds or Less Offense and the emergence of Nash as a Hall of Fame point guard in the system.
D’Antoni coached Nash on the Lakers (2012-14) for a far less successful stretch after Nash’s body had been eroded by injury.
D’Antoni, 69, is one of the most successful and innovative coaches of this generation. He spent the past four years with the Houston Rockets before choosing to walk away without a contract extension at the end of the 2019-20 season.
D’Antoni was 217-101 in his four seasons as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals. D’Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the past four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.