Nash, 46, arrived in Brooklyn this week, according to the people. An eight-time All-Star who led the league in assists five times, Nash had resisted all previous overtures to join an N.B.A. coaching staff full time, even as an assistant, since retiring after the 2013-14 season, saying repeatedly that he intended to put his coaching and front office aspirations on hold until his five children were older.
The Phoenix Suns, with whom Nash won his back-to-back M.V.P. awards in 2005 and 2006, gauged Nash’s interest in recent years in both coaching and front-office work. Marks, though, convinced Nash to move up his timetable and make an immediate leap to head coaching, similar to what the Nets’ previous regime did in June 2013 when they hired Jason Kidd, one of Nash’s playing contemporaries, just after Kidd had participated in the playoffs with the Knicks.
The hiring, beyond the questions sure to be raised about Nash’s lack of experience, will also bring renewed attention to the league’s dwindling number of Black head coaches. Vaughn’s reassignment has left the N.B.A. with just five in a league in which the player pool is estimated to be roughly 80 percent Black. At the start of the 2012-13 season, there were 14 Black head coaches.
New Orleans and Indiana have yet to replace Gentry and McMillan; Philadelphia and Chicago are the N.B.A.’s other two teams with a coaching vacancy. The other current Black coaches are Atlanta’s Lloyd Pierce, Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff, Detroit’s Dwane Casey, Phoenix’s Monty Williams and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers. Charlotte’s James Borrego was the first Latino coach in N.B.A. history, and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, of Filipino descent, was the league’s first Asian-American coach.
In retirement, Nash has worked with the men’s senior national basketball team in his native Canada — both as the program’s general manager and in an advisory role — while maintaining a significant presence in soccer as both a team owner and broadcaster. For the past two seasons, Nash was part of Turner Sports’ coverage of the Champions League. The various soccer jobs, Nash has said, allowed him to be home with his children in the Los Angeles area.