As Nets general manager Sean Marks begins his coaching search in earnest, superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be consulted. But they apparently won’t be the only ones.
Marks is expected to pick the brains of several Nets above and beyond his two superstars. Multiple sources have indicated he will likely touch base with other players Brooklyn has invested in long term, including DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie. One source suggested Caris LeVert as well.
“Yeah, I would say it would totally be not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. And that not only goes for Kevin,” Marks said earlier. “Kevin, Kyrie; we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. The guys have been brutally honest so far.”
The honesty may not be limited to that duo.
The Nets job — currently held by Jacque Vaughn, a solid 7-3 as the interim coach — will be one of the more plum positions available, thanks to the expected debut of Durant, the emergence of LeVert, and return of Irving and Dinwiddie.
Nets owner Joe Tsai has invested heavily. Durant and Irving started four-year deals last summer, paying $164 million and $136 million respectively. In the star-driven NBA, seeking their input was always a given. But they arrived as a package deal with close friend Jordan, who got a fully guaranteed four-year, $40 million pact.
Dinwiddie — who helped recruit Irving — began a three-year, $34 million pact, while LeVert’s three-year, $52 million extension kicks in next season. It would be unwise to invest in their play but not their knowledge; and several of those players have experience with coaches believed to be on Brooklyn’s radar.
“[Durant] continues to be a very loud voice in terms of where we’re going in the future and what we’re doing,” Marks said. “And I involve him — like the other players — on how we’ll continue to build this team and how we move forward.”
Vaughn has worked with Marks three times dating back to 2011 in San Antonio, and is considered a strong candidate to hold onto the job full-time. And the other perceived early favorite is Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, who coached Irving to his greatest success in Cleveland.
Lue was 128-83 with the Cavs, promoted to head coach on Jan. 22, 2016 and fired on Oct. 28, 2018. Between then he reached three NBA Finals, won a 2016 title on Irving’s iconic shot, and saw the guard average 25.2 points a year later, his best for a full season.
There is believed to be mutual interest from both Irving and Lue in a reunion. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Lue is a candidate for the Sixers and Pelicans, seeking $7 million annually but possibly willing to accept $5 million or $6 million. Joe Harris also played under Lue in Cleveland, with Harris telling The Post that Lue was “an excellent coach.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has also been linked to Brooklyn, as has Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Sixers assistant Ime Udoka.
Popovich is a mentor to Marks, and his credentials are impeccable with a ring for every finger on his hand. The 71-year-old is held in high regard by Durant, who played under him in several All-Star games. Irving put San Antonio on his list of preferred destinations when he asked to be traded.
Durant’s camp is also reportedly fond of Jackson. Kidd — whose final year at Cal was Marks’ redshirt freshman season — is also on the 76ers’ radar, according to the Inquirer.