In the throes of the Nets surprising performance in the “bubble,” there is some sentiment for keeping things as-is next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning, Caris LeVert starring and so much stability on the roster and on the bench, why not keep the basic core of players and Jacque Vaughn as head coach?
In an interview with Steve Serby published in the Post Sunday, Stan Van Gundy suggest some skepticism about that kind of a strategy, that despite the success of the “bubble,” the Nets ownership and management should realize it’s a “small sample” and the ultimate goals very big.
Asked about Vaughn, who succeeded SVG as head coach of the Magic, he praised the job but raised some skepticism about whether he’s the best choice. (Of course, Stan’s brother, Jeff, is rumored as a possible candidate to replace Vaughn.)
Q: “Has Jacque Vaughn done enough to be in consideration for the Nets head coaching job?”
A: “Well I hope so, because Jacque’s a really good guy. And they’ve done very well here in the bubble. The only thing is, is what he’s doing here in the bubble is totally different than what the job description will be there with the Nets next year. So taking a bunch of young guys and getting them to overachieve, especially for a relatively short period of time, it’s not easy, but it’s a very different job than coaching star players with high expectations. So I don’t know how [GM] Sean Marks and [owner] Joe Tsai look at Jacque in terms of those things. Look, I was shocked, and I think a lot of people were, when Kenny Atkinson was out. I don’t think there were very many people over the last few years in the NBA who had done a better job coaching than Kenny Atkinson. Totally revived the Nets franchise, and did an unbelievable job developing the young players that they had and making them better. I would love to see Jacque get a second chance, because he came into Orlando and took a team really in flux and didn’t have a great roster, and didn’t have a great record. I always pull for those guys to get a second chance.”
As for the roster going forward, the veteran coach and executive who’s now doing analysis for TNT said there are issues that will have to be addressed before the Nets decide how to move forward...
Q: “Could Caris LeVert be the third spoke in the wheel with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving?”
A: “Kyrie and Kevin Durant are clearly your stars, and I look at Caris LeVert and probably Spencer Dinwiddie as your second-unit guys, your bench scorers, and then put more shooting around Kyrie and Kevin Durant to space the floor. Joe Harris to me is a really good fit for them in the starting lineup if they bring him back. Both are certainly good enough not only to be starters but to be good starters in the NBA. The problem to me, and I’m not saying you can’t overcome it, but the tough part if Spencer and/or Caris LeVert are in the starting lineup with Kyrie and Kevin Durant is Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie both need the ball in their hands. They are put-the-ball-in-my-hands, let me go one-on-one or let me run pick-and-roll, and in your first unit, the ball’s gonna be in Kyrie and Kevin Durant’s hands all the time.”
There’s a lot to unpack in both but reading between the lines it would appear that SVG would think big both in terms of a coaching search and roster compilation.
- Stan Van Gundy talks Tom Thibodeau, Knicks and history with Dwight Howard - Steve Serby - New York Post