Nets coach Steve Nash recently said he has coached three different teams — the original version that began with a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, a second version following the trade for James Harden and a third version that added free-agent former All-Stars Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge while Durant was nursing a long-term hamstring injury.
Nash gives all credit to general manager Sean Marks for putting the pieces in place to develop a so-called "superteam" when Durant rejoins them, as expected in the coming week. "Sean deserves the credit for pushing these things over the line and for having a vision to execute," Nash said.
"It may look straightforward and simple from the outside, but a lot goes into all these decisions, and Sean is very thorough in his approach with the whole front office. He’s done an unbelievable job. Not just this year, but in building the prior culture that was here before this team was here, building that kind of position of strength and leverage for the roster. I hope everyone understands what a great job he’s done. It’s been outstanding."
When the Nets faced the Bulls Sunday afternoon in Chicago, Durant missed his 21st straight game with a strained left hamstring. Harden sat out his second game with hamstring tightness, but Nash said he would have played if it were a playoff game and likely will return against the Knicks Monday night at Barclays Center.
In the meantime, Nash started a lineup that included Irving, Aldridge and Griffin along with Joe Harris and Bruce Brown. "I think LaMarcus and Blake could very well play together," Nash said before the game. "We’d like to look at different things, but those two can certainly play together in that they both can stretch the floor and they both can post up. Blake can play-make, and LaMarcus is a good passer out of the post. I think there is potential there for that to be a combination in certain scenarios."
Harden and Durant remained in Brooklyn to work out. While there is no specific timetable for Durant’s return, he is expected to come back during the three-game homestand that begins Monday. So all five All-Stars should be available this week.
Speaking of the job Marks did to make that possible, Harris said, "We added premier talent. That’s what you need if you want to get to a championship level. We were initially trying to develop it, grow it, but fortunately for us, free agency and the job of our front office [did attract] top-tier players to come here."