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Official: Nets hire David Vanterpool as assistant coach, replacing Ime Udoka

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets are hiring David Vanterpool, the Timberwolves associate head coach, as an assistant coach. Vanterpool, who has been interviewed for multiple head coach openings in recent years, is seen as one of the NBA’s most accomplished assistant coaches, having worked for the Thunder and Blazers as well as the T’Wolves.

Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story early Friday. The Nets made it official later in the day.

Vanterpool will replace Ime Udoka who the Celtics hired as a head coach earlier this month. The Nets had eight assistant coaches last season. They had been concerned they could lose Jacque Vaughn and Mike D’Antoni as well, but Vaughn took himself out of contention for the still-open Pelicans job and D’Antoni interviewed for the then-open Blazers job before Portland hired Chauncey Billups.

The veteran assistant got a big endorsement from Kevin Durant Friday who spoke of Vanterpool from the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. KD and Vanterpool worked together in OKC.

“As far as Dave, that’s family,” Durant said. “He’s from the same area I’m from. We know the same people. Mutual family friends. Worked with him in OKC. So I can’t wait to have him on board. … I’m looking forward to learning from him and bringing him into the family. Can’t wait.”

Vanterpool grew up in Montgomery County, Md., one county away from Durant’s neighboring Prince George’s.

In the last several years, Vanterpool has been the NBA’s ultimate coaching bridesmaid, being interviewed for head coaching gigs with the Nuggets, Magic, Cavaliers, Rockets, Pelicans and Bulls. He was considered but passed over for the head coaching job in Minnesota last February. The Timberwolves instead went outside the organization to hire Chris Finch, a Raptors assistant. That angered a number of advocates for hiring black head coaches, including high profile players who had worked with him.

Vanterpool is known for his defense and development skills. Two of his prized pupils in Portland, All-Stars Damian Lillard and C.J. McCullum, have publicly endorsed him when he’s been up for head coaching jobs, most recently in October 2020 when he was up for the Rockets job. Back in February, Lillard and McCollum spoke out on social media after Vanterpool was passed over for the TWolves head coaching job.

Similarly, Karl Anthony-Towns expressed surprise that Vanterpool had been passed over.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing work David Vanterpool has put in, and as a man who looks like me, I can’t wait to see him get a job where he can flourish and be a head coach and run a team,” KAT said at the time.

The 48-year-old played college ball at St. Bonaventure, then went undrafted. He rattled around Europe for 12 years, eventually winding up with CSKA Moscow, then owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, winning a Euroleague title in 2006. After his playing days ended, Vanterpool spent three years as an assistant coach with CSKA before joining the Thunder in 2010. In 2015, he was named an assistant coach for Team Canada. Steve Nash was the national team’s general manager at the time.

As a player, he won national titles in Russia, Italy and the Adriatic league in addition to the Euroleague title. He also won a Euroleague title as an assistant coach with CSKA.