As the Nets opened training camp, coach Steve Nash insisted he wasn’t convinced Kevin Durant actually wanted him fired or concerned over offseason reports that he did.
When asked Tuesday on the first day of camp how he can coach a star who tried to subvert him, Nash likened it to a family fight, one that just required some real talk to put in the rearview mirror.
“We’re fine. We’re good. Ever since we talked it’s been like nothing’s changed,” Nash said. “I have a long history with Kevin. Love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. … We all were hurting, seething to go through what we went through last year.
“The reality is, we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year and also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”
This family fight was more dysfunctional than anything from the Targaryens in “Game of Thrones.” But the long-standing relationship between Nash and Durant runs deep. Nash worked out with Durant as far back as 2014 when Nash’s playing career was winding down with the Lakers and Durant was with the Thunder. After Nash retired, he was hired as a player development consultant for Golden State while Durant was with the Warriors.
That history made it all the more stunning when Durant requested a trade this summer, and then asked Nets owner Joe Tsai to remove Nash and general manager Sean Marks. Tsai instead tweeted his support of Marks and Nash. On Tuesday, Nash insisted he was never worried.
“I never thought that was 100 percent. It’s not black-and-white like that. There’s a lot of factors, lot of things behind the scenes,” Nash said. “Lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. You get fragmented bits of truth, you get things that are flat-out not true. It’s the nature of the media these days, so many people fighting for clicks and headlines … people are going with stuff that’s not even accurate.
“I never get caught up in all that stuff. I’m going to hear it from Kevin when the time is right. I’m going to talk to Sean, I’m going to talk to all the parties involved. You just work through it step-by-step. You don’t overreact. You stay calm and work on communication and facts. And here we are.”
Here was Day 1 of training camp, with Durant back in Nets gear.
The Nets have actually been playing pickup games at HSS Training Center for weeks, and to a man they insist the overall energy has been good.
“It was never really as big a deal to me. I always thought we’d have our moment, we’d discuss it and choose a course,” Nash said. “And we’re fortunate to all be in the gym working together again and excited. The energy’s been outstanding.”
That moment came on Aug. 22 in Los Angeles, during the discussion between Durant and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, on one side, and Nash, Marks, Tsai and his wife, Clara, on the other. The talks were short, but clearly productive. The Nets announced the next day that Durant had rescinded his trade request.
“It was an opportunity for us to clear the air and just communicate,” Nash said. “It was pretty straightforward. It didn’t take a lot of time. We got to the bottom of it, and decided to move forward. … Knowing Kevin as long as I have, it didn’t bother me the way everyone would think. That’s a part of being competitors. I wasn’t overly surprised and I wasn’t even overly concerned. It was something I thought we’d address in time and we did. Here we are and we’re looking forward. There’s something in this we can all grow from.”
They can grow as an NBA family, according to Markieff Morris.
“That’s the NBA, man. You break up with a girlfriend, you get back with her. Same s–t,” said Morris, who joined the Nets earlier this month. “You air your differences until you figure it out.”
But can it work?
“Yeah, I broke up with my wife a couple times. We still married,” Morris said. “Sometimes you need space to figure some things out. [It] works.”