The Nets’ coaching staff shakeup continues, with the planned hiring of Mavericks assistant coach Igor Kokoskov to serve as Steve Nash’s assistant.
The pair have a longstanding relationship since their days together on Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds Or Less” team with the Suns. Nash had tried to sign Kokoskov when he took over the Nets in 2020 and, two years later, is finally ready to have his man. The news was first reported by Marc Stein on Substack.
Kokoskov has a reputation for developing players, something Nets general manager Sean Marks said last month his team needed to recapture. Kokoskov, a Serb, also won an NBA title as an assistant for the Pistons in 2004.
Kokoskov, 50, will not only be an experienced sounding board for Nash, but also someone you can trust. He has three decades of professional coaching experience in the NBA and overseas, and was an assistant at Phoenix from 2008 to 2013, with Nash being the star point guard in the first four of those five campaigns.
In addition to Nash, Kokoskov knows Kyrie Irving from spending the 2013-14 season as an assistant with the Cavaliers. After stints as an assistant in Orlando and Utah, he took over as head coach for Slovenia and guided them to an upset win in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket Championship, along with Luka Doncic and guard Nets free agent Goran Dragic.
Kokoskov turned that into a return to Phoenix in 2018. Having previously been the first European-born assistant in the NBA (with the Clippers from 2000 to 2003), his only season under the Suns made him the first head coach of the league born and raised outside of North America.
From 2019 to 2021 he coached the Serbian national team (with current Nets pick Nikola Milutinov), and he spent last season reuniting with Doncic in Dallas.
Now he looks set for a reunion with Nash (and Irving) in Brooklyn.
Much was made of the loss of former Nets assistant Ime Udoka to Boston last offseason, and how their disappointing season ended at the hands of Udoka’s Celtics, who beat the Warriors. in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
Development coach Amar’e Stoudemire (who was with Nash and Kososkov at Phoenix) has already left the Nets coaching staff. Assistants David Vanterpool and Adam Harrington – who also serves as director of player development – are expected to follow, leaving more staff vacancies.
It’s unclear if Steve Clifford – a former Charlotte and Orlando head coach – will return as a consultant. He interviewed and was a finalist for the Kings job.
Former Hornets head coach James Borrego is on the open market and has been linked to the Nets by NetsDaily.