Despite heavy rumors that the Brooklyn Nets were close to hiring Ime Udoka as their new head coach, the Nets promoted interim head coach Jacques Vaughn by naming him the full-time head coach.
The Nets are mitigating numerous PR disasters since the season began. The Nets suspended guard Kyrie Irving for a minimum of five games after he promoted an anti-semitic documentary and conspiracy theories on his social media account. He then refused to apologize properly for his actions.
Irving also ignored play calls from head coach Steve Nash, who stepped down after a 2-5 start. Nash and the Nets agreed to part ways only seven games into the season. Beat reporters have thrown around adjectives like “chaotic” and “disastrous” to describe Nash’s tenure in Brooklyn.
Nets Eyed Udoka to Replace Nash
All-Star forward Kevin Durant requested a trade in the off-season and rescinded his request. During an emergency meeting in London, Durant wanted team owner Joe Tsai to fire Nash and general manager, Sean Marks. But Tsai supported his head coach and front office staff.
Nash lasted seven games this season before everyone realized he lost the locker room. His relationship with Irving had deteriorated to a point of embarrassment.
After Nash stepped down, the Nets named assistant coach Jacques Vaughn as their interim head coach. Word quickly got out that the Nets were negotiating with Udoka to hire him as their next head coach.
During his first year as a head coach, Udoka led the Boston Celtics to an Eastern Conference championship and guided them to a trip to the 2022 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Celtics to win the 2021-22 NBA championship, but the Celtics entered the off-season as betting favorites to win the title this season.
The Celtics suspended Udoka for one year for violating the team’s conduct code. Udoka had a consensual but inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. Both parties were involved with other people, which complicated the matter.
Assistant coach Joe Mazzula took over as head coach of the Celtics while Udoka serves his suspension. There was speculation on whether or not Udoka would return to the Celtics next season or seek employment elsewhere. The new NBA season wasn’t even a few weeks before the Nets contacted Udoka about heading to Brooklyn to coach the Nets.
Nets Finally Make a Wise Move
Tsai and the Nets were in the middle of a huge firestorm from the Irving anti-semitism drama, but the potential hiring of Udoka was horrible optics.
The Nets recognized the blowback and decided to stick with Vaughn. The Nets removed the interim label and officially named Vaughn the head coach.
I was excited for him,” Durant told reporters last night after the Nets beat the New York Knicks. “I know the work that he puts in every day. He cares about the development of each player, and this team as a whole. Look forward to playing for him.”
The Nets are 3-2 since Vaughn took over the team.
“All the guys have responded to how he wants us to play, so I’m looking forward to how we progress after this,” added Durant.
The Nets are also 3-1 since they suspended Irving last week, and his future with the team is unknown. The Nets said Irving must complete a thorough six-step process before returning to the team.
Behind the scenes, the Nets reached out to numerous teams and attempted to trade Irving. However, no general manager wants to add a troubled player like Irving to their roster. There’s a history of toxicity involving Irving and every team he’s played for, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
Jacques Vaughn: From Kansas Jayhawks to the NBA
Vaughn excelled as a point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks and was named the 1996 Big Eight Player of the Year. The Utah Jazz selected Vaughn as a late first-round pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He spent 12 seasons in the NBA, mainly as a backup point guard with the Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets, and San Antonio Spurs.
Gregg “Pops” Popovich hired Vaughn as an assistant coach when he retired from playing in 2009. Vaughn is considered part of the prestigious Pops coaching tree.
The Orlando Magic hired Vaughn as their head coach for nearly three seasons between 2012 and 2015 before he was fired midway through the 2014-15 season. He amassed a 58-158 record with the last-place Magic.
Vaughn joined the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach under Kenny Atkinson in 2016. When the Nets fired Atkinson in March 2020, Vaughn took over as interim head coach.
The Nets passed over Vaughn that off-season, hiring Nash as their new head coach at the start of the 2020-21 season. Vaughn remained with the Nets as the top assistant coach under Nash.
With Vaughn at the helm, you can back the Nets at +1100 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to an update by DraftKings. The Nets were one of the top five title favorites in the preseason at +700 odds, but their championship futures quickly slipped after a slow start. They dipped to +850 odds after the first week of the season, and bottomed out at +1200 after Nash stepped down.
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