No stranger to drama lately, the Nets made the quick decision to skip a protracted coaching search and hire someone familiar.
Longtime Nets assistant Jack Vaughn was named head coach Wednesday, replacing Steve Nash. Deleted last week. Vaughn coached the team in an interim capacity for four games thereafter.
Vaughn took over at a particularly crunch time for the organization, its star point guard Kyrie Irving posted a link to an anti-Semitic image on Twitter at the end of October. The Nets suspended Irving indefinitely for refusing to disavow anti-Semitism. He missed four games, including Wednesday’s 112-85 home win over the Knicks, and the team said he will miss at least one more game.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said, “Finding someone with some consistency, that’s JV. “Very consistent, ready under pressure. Virtuous. Such is he.”
Before Wednesday’s game, Vaughn met with reporters and smiled brightly. In response to a question, he nodded to rumors last week that the Nets had selected suspended Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka to replace Nash that season.
“I think I was a write-in candidate,” Vaughn said, laughing. He added: “I’m fine with that. I told my wife that I might not have been her first choice and we were together for 20 years. So, you know, it might all work out. Now let’s go.”
Vaughn has been an assistant coach with the Nets since 2016 and served as interim head coach in 2020. Kenny Atkinson has been sacked as coach. The Nets drafted him over Atkinson, but eventually hired Nash, and Vaughn remained on Nash’s staff.
On Wednesday, Marks Vaughn was praised for stepping back in as interim coach. This time, Marks looked out enough to give him a shot on a more permanent basis.
The Nets went 2-2 with Vaughn at the helm on Wednesday, and Marks said he liked the energy around the team during those four games.
“We look at the big picture here, having a relationship with him for seven years, his relationship with the players, his competitive spirit, that goes a long way,” Marks said. “We see how this group, to be very frank, has responded to him recently.”
Vaughn said Thursday that he has not reached out to Irving since his suspension.
“I thought I was serving and it wasn’t my place,” Vaughn said. “As an assistant coach I always understood my limits. It may go forward where I am now.
Marks said he hasn’t spoken to Irving since Thursday, but he didn’t explain why.
The team announced on November 1 that they had agreed to part ways with Nash. Shortly thereafter, news media reports began linking the Nets to Udoka Suspended by the Celtics in September for violating unspecified team policies. Udoka was having an affair with a female partner, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Asked specifically why he didn’t hire Udoka, Marks said it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss what candidates were considered. The Celtics have allowed Udoka to talk to other teams and won’t seek compensation if another team signs him, explained a person who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Nash initially had the support of Irving and predecessor Kevin Durant Hired in 2020 Without previous training experience. But he’s presided over a tumultuous time for the franchise: Irving is missing most of the 2021-22 season. He will not vaccinate against the coronavirus; Injuries to Durant and Ben Simmons; And James Harden is traded From Houston to the Nets – Later Nets to Philadelphia As the team struggled last season.
Healthy again to start this season, the Nets continued to struggle. They started 2-5 years before firing Nash. Marks said the players had “zero” input on the decision and that he and Nash “felt it was time.”
“If I were to sit here and list all the things he’s had to go through in his tenure here, I’d be doing him a disservice because he doesn’t want an apology,” Marks said. “That’s not who he is. So he’s definitely not on the playing field here for two years. And for that, I definitely feel some responsibility because it doesn’t all fall on him.
Vaughn began his NBA journey as a player, with a 12-year career that included two seasons with the Nets. He won the championship in 2007 as part of the San Antonio Spurs.
Vaughn’s playing career ended in San Antonio and his coaching career began. He was an assistant to coach Gregg Popovich for two seasons before the Orlando Magic hired Van as their head coach in July 2012.
The Magic began a rebuild. They traded All-Star center Dwight Howard that summer and then went 20-62 in Vaughn’s first season. It was the worst record in the NBA, going slightly better the following year at 23-59. After a 15-37 start to the 2014-15 season, the Magic fired Van.
He joined Atkinson’s Nets staff in the summer of 2016. On March 7, 2020, the Nets fired Atkinson, less than a week before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the NBA season resumed in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Florida that summer, Vaughn coached the team to a 5-3 record in playoff-seeding games, then lost to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.
“I was a young coach,” Vaughn said. “I’m definitely glad I took the job. It’s made me a better assistant coach. He added: “I’ve grown into an individual.
“Communicator. Music aficionado. Certified bacon trailblazer. Travel advocate. Subtly charming social media fanatic.”