Nets did well to name Jacque Vaughn coach

There are few things more Brooklyn than “Do The Right Thing”. That’s exactly what the Nets did on Wednesday, when they named head coach Jacque Vaughn — and fired Ime Udoka.

It’s not a guarantee or even a prediction that Vaughn will guide the Nets to the NBA Finals, like Udoka did with the Celtics last season. But Udoka would have added more drama to an already more dramatic-than-reality TV crew.

“The Real Housewives of Flatbush & Atlantic” couldn’t catch Kevin Durant telling the Nets to trade him unless Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks were fired. Or Kyrie Irving’s series of controversies, the last of which was suspended for promoting an anti-Semitic film.

The Nets needed a dose of common sense. They needed some stability. And it’s Vaughn.

“You hit it right there: find someone with some stability. He’s JV, a very stable, under-pressure gentleman,” said Marks, who celebrated with a 112-85 rout of rival Knicks on Wednesday night. That’s who he is. He’s seen it all.

“He knows us all. There’s a relationship here that he already has, whether it’s the front office and the staff and also the players. Right now, to be honest, we were going to have to find someone better than JV so that it wasn’t JV.


Let’s be clear: this is not a merit badge for scouts. Vaughn is hired to win games. But doing it without drama is fine. Doing it with class is better. Doing so without the kind of sexual misconduct that got Udoka suspended is a must.

Jacques Vaughn
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“We have a lot of respect for him and we will follow his example,” said Ben Simmons.

Markieff Morris added: “He’s a serious type trainer.”

Udoka was banned for a year by the Celtics for having an affair with a subordinate, sending unwanted and inappropriate texts, and “volume violations”.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s office was tight-lipped about any league contributions, but Boston’s Jaylen Brown told reporters after Wednesday’s Celtics game that Irving’s drama likely prevented the Nets from taking the risk on Udoka.

“The situation here in Boston was unfortunate, but I think with the Brooklyn Nets there’s a lot more going on right now, the Kyrie Irving situation that everyone is watching,” Brown said. “So I think that’s probably what stopped him from getting that spot.”

As the Nets were about to hire Udoka, team owner Joe Tsai heard worried voices from inside the organization, the league and women’s groups. After all the Nets talk about culture, hiring Udoka would have flown against that — or proven it to be empty talk.

Instead, the Nets did the right thing.

“JV totally deserves this,” Marks said. “He proved it. [And] we took into account what we knew about JV and the person he is.

Marks has known what kind of person Vaughn is for a while.

Jacque Vaughn coaches the Nets against the Knicks on Wednesday.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Vaughn was a Spurs assistant when Marks arrived in San Antonio in 2011 as a basketball operations assistant. Vaughn took over as Orlando’s head coach the following year, and when he returned to San Antonio as a professional scout in 2015, Marks had become assistant general manager.

The Nets also know all about Vaughn, who had been an assistant in Brooklyn since 2016. He went 7-3 as interim coach after Kenny Atkinson was fired in 2020, but didn’t get the job, which went in Nash.

“He’s done an amazing job in the meantime,” Joe Harris said. “But even before that he coached us on an interim basis when Kenny was fired. So it’s technically his first victory… but he’s got a lot to do since he’s been here.

After going 2-2 in the first four games of his interim recall, Vaughn finally has the job as leader. And he showed it in style in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,156.

“I guess I was the candidate written in the spirit of the election right now,” Vaughn said. “But I agree with that. I said to my wife: maybe I wasn’t her first choice and we’ve been together for 20 years, so anything can work out.

Ime Udoka coaches the Celtics in the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Ime Udoka coaches the Celtics in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

Training is relative. Only two coaches in NBA history — Tim Floyd and Sidney Lowe — who coached as many games as Vaughn have a worse winning percentage. But during his last stint as head coach, ten years ago in Orlando, he was green and his team lacked talent. His gray beard and the presence of Durant show that this is no longer the case.

He took over a team that was 2-5 thanks to its penultimate defensive rating. In his first four games as interim manager, they finished third. They hope his stint as head coach is more or less the same.

“He is inspiring. He excites me,” Nic Claxton told the Post. “He’s going to do a great job leading us.”

If he does, it will show the Nets did the right thing.

New York Post

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