Sean Marks has never missed an opportunity to praise Jacque Vaughn, the Nets head coach since Kenny Atkinson was dumped. He has said glowing things about Vaughn’s leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and on Wednesday continued in that vein.
“I think it’s completely unfair to say it’s going to be about wins and losses at this point,” Marks said of the eight “seeding games” at the start of “bubble” play. “I think Jacque has been a permanent part of this organization the last four years. We know what Jacque is about and the type of person he is and the character and the leader that he is.
“I think for us, this has been about, he gets to know the new players, continue to develop relationships with them. Not only the new players, but the existing group. I think we just see what happens down the line.”
Now, Adrian Wojnarowski —and Malika Andrews, who covers the Nets for ESPN, have weighed in. They, like a growing number of pundits, think that Vaughn, who was Atkinson’s lead assistant, is the front-runner —or more— in the hunt for a new head coach.
“He’s the head coach,” said Woj on his podcast Thursday. “They didn’t make him interim coach. While i know the Nets are considering the possibility of a search, I would still give Jacque Vaughn, I would take Jacque Vaughn against the field right now.”
“Absolutely,” replied Andrews.
“To keep that job,” added Woj.
Woj also echoed Marks comments about how the seeding games won’t be the be-all, end-all for Vaughn’s career aspirations. In fact, he said, working with a depleted roster could prove his mettle. to prove he’s the guy.
“You know what Sean Marks has to evaluate,” added Woj.” He’s got to evaluate whether Jacque Vaughn is the right guy to coach KD and Kyrie Irving and lead that team next season.”
And Andrews pointed out that Marks has held off on any coaching search because it wouldn’t be fair.
“He genuinely wanted to see what Jacque could do with this group of guys but now it becomes convoluted as to what exactly the criteria is for what they are evaluating,” said Andrews. “So that makes it a little hard to know what they will be evaluating.”
Bobby Marks said that he thought one criteria will be “How does he prepare for these eight games. [It] will tell a lot. Sean will be there. He’ll be able to tell a lot.”
The Nets job is viewed as the best opening in the NBA, It’s assumed that Mike Dantoni is leaving Houston and while the Rockets have James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Nets ownership situation is more stable and the Rockets play in Houston, not New York.
Other names that have been mentioned to one degree or another include Tyronn Lue, now an assistant with the Clippers, and Mike Brown, now an assistant with the Warriors, or Jason Kidd and Phil Handy, both assistants with the Lakers.
Vaughn, as has been noted, does have certain advantages beyond his tenure. He has a very good relationship with Kyrie Irving and was often seen working out with Irving prior to games this season. And he has head coaching experience, even if his time with the rebuilding Magic resulted in a 58-158 record.
Moreover, his relationships extend beyond Irving.
“I think JV’s been great just in the sense that he’s trying to make the most of the situation, treat everything as normal as possible in terms of making sure guys are prepared when we’re going to get back and playing, making sure guys are playing and developing the right way, kind of maintaining constant communication with people,” Joe Harris said on a Thursday Zoom call. “Especially early on, when we’re not able to get into the facility.”
Another factor is that the Nets front office appreciates the assistant coaches that surround Vaughn. Hiring a new head coach would likely mean most if not all of the group would be dispatched.
And Vaughn is not without ambition which is not a bad thing.
- Joe Harris says Jacque Vaughn has been instrumental in keeping Nets focused during NBA hiatus - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News