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Shams: Jacque Vaughn to have ‘legitimate’ opportunity at head coach

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Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

In our poll Monday, we asked Nets fans who they liked for team’s big job: head coach. While half of the 1,000 respondents think the Nets should cast a wide in filling the job,, Jacque Vaughn gained a little more than 17 percent of the votes.

And Shams Charania, the Nets assistant-turned-interim head coach agreed has a shot at getting the head coaching gig. Asked by one of the hosts of the Load Management podcast if Vaughn has a “legitimate” opportunity, Shams said that he does.

“This is a guy that comes from the Spurs background, has the same pedigree as [Nets general manager] Sean Marks,” Charania said on Tuesday’s edition of the Load Management podcast. “As far as I know, he does a good job at working with players, building that relationship.”

That coincides with what a number of NetsDaily sources have said, that other big names may be getting the headlines, Vaughn has head coaching experience (admittedly with a rebuilding team) in Orlando and was Kenny Aktinson’s No. 2 until Atkinson was dumped the week before the shutdown.

Indeed, GM Sean Marks and Vaughn were teammates on the 2007 NBA champion Spurs and after two years as head coach of the Magic, Vaughn returned to San Antonio as a scout ... when Marks was assistant GM. Both left the Spurs for the Nets in 2016, Marks as GM, Vaughn as lead assistant.

Marks has praised Vaughn’s dealing with players during the coronavirus and said he hopes he’ll get more games to show his mettle. Vaughn is 2-0 since taking over as interim head coach.

There has been plenty of speculation about whether Kyrie Irving has good relations with two of his former coaches, Tyronn Lue and Mike Brown, two other candidates for the head job. There’s no doubt about Vaughn’s. He has been more or less Irving’s personal coach in Brooklyn.

Shams said that the Nets opening was created because a number of Nets players —not just Kevin Durant and Irving— weren’t crazy about Atkinson’s offense.

“There were a few things,” said The Athletic reporter. “Let’s start early in training camp. The offense he still wanted to go with was something that didn’t vibe with his best players, from Kyrie Irving to Kevin Durant to Spencer Dinwiddie on ... and so forth ... which was a free for all offense. It wasn’t like a set regime, a set style. He still wanted to play the way they were kind of playing with D’Angelo Russell. And I don’t think guys went with that.

“Then, as the year went on, I think different things became issues and I think Kenny Atkinson, who’s a great guy, a good coach, struggled to deal with all these star plays and their wants and desires. The DeAndre Jordan point became a big one. He wanted to start. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were his friends. It’s the reason he was signed to that big contract. Kenny Atkinson didn’t want to start him and that became a butting heads point that whole organization. So that became an problem.

Shams also reiterated that a Nets team meeting following the blowout loss to the Grizzlies was the beginning of the end.

“And as time wore on, people started to see it wear on Kenny Atkinson. There was a big blow up team meeting, the Wednesday before he was fired. There was a big big team meeting —lot of emotions. And in that team meeting, Kevin Durant, as I reported, as I was told, said these weren’t championship type habits we want to build here in Brooklyn. And I think that message rang true throughout the whole organization. Any time Kevin Durant is going to speak up in a team meeting, everyone’s going to listen.

“You match all those factors in and Sean Marks let Kenny Atkinson know what time it was.”

Talking about Atkinson’s future, Charania said that the Bulls, more than the Knicks. could be his next stop.

Charania said that while the Nets might have the pieces to pursue Bradley Beal, he doesn’t think there’s much of a chance that Beal will be moved, that he wants to play with John Wall and the Wizards. He also said that if Beal became available, the league’s 29 other teams would also make an offer.