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SHOCKER: Nets name Jacque Vaughn head coach!

This story will be updated.

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Brooklyn Nets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Three days after Marc Stein reported that “strong voices” were urging Joe Tsai to “back off” hiring Ime Udoka, the Nets decided to pass on Udoka and make Jacque Vaughn their head coach. Reports indicate that Vaughn is signed through the end of the 2023-24 season.

“Jacque’s basketball acumen, competitiveness and intimate knowledge of our team and organization make him the clear-cut best person to lead our group moving forward,” said Sean Marks in making the announcement. “He has a proven ability to get the best out of our players, hold them accountable and play a cohesive, team-first style of basketball.”

Shams Charania reported that there were a number of factors in the decision not to go with Udoka...

These factors include an investigation and due diligence process by the Nets into the suspended coach taking longer than initially expected, the outcry after word of their plan became known to people outside and inside the organization and the short- and long-term question marks around the team’s ability to contend in the Eastern Conference as a result of the indefinite suspension of Irving.

Charania did not discuss whether the league had intervened. Later, Woj reported that no one was “telling” the Nets they couldn’t hire Udoka.

“I think for Brooklyn, there was nobody telling Brooklyn that they could not hire Ime Udoka,” Woj said. “They made a decision about what made sense for them with this timing. I think under different conditions, there’s a very good chance — almost certainly — Ime Udoka would have been the Nets coach.”

Vaughn was named acting head coach on November 1 after Brooklyn dumped Steve Nash and has led the team to a 2-2 record in four games.

Before the news was announced, Joe Harris spoke at the Nets morning shootaround about what Vaughn has brought to the Nets as an acting head coach:

“You know, it’s a lot of similarities. But I think overall, it’s just him trying again, just trying to simplify the game plan, you know, not trying to convolute anything, making sure everyone is fully aware of what their individual matchup is understanding the personnel. You know, keeping things relatively simple,” said Harris.

The move came as a surprise. There was no doubt that the Nets front office wanted to hire Udoka who was suspended as Celtic head coach in September following allegations of sexual impropriety.

In the days after Nash was let go, there were reports primarily from Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania that Udoka’s hiring was imminent, “on the brink” as Woj put when he last discussed the issue last Friday.

Then, on Sunday, Stein reported ‘there have been some ‘strong voices’ urging Tsai to back off the Nets’ intent to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka as Steve Nash’s successor given the considerable turmoil Brooklyn has already faced this season.” The “turmoil,” of course, revolved around Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic video on October 26 which ultimately led to protests, an ugly standoff with the media and a suspension that will last at least five days and possibly a lot longer.

NetsDaily confirmed at the time the Stein tweet and that the “strong voices” he referred to were emanating from inside the commissioner’s office.

There have also been questions raised about what precisely happened in Boston. Udoka had been suspended for a “volume of violations” of the Celtics code of conduct — as owner Wyc Grousbeck put it — back in September when a law firm presented its report on Udoka’s issues. Indeed, if Udoka had been hired, he would have faced more questions on those violations than his basketball philosophy. With the Nets already dealing with the Irving public relations nightmare, an Udoka hire would no doubt have raised more issues about the franchise’s ownership and management.

As Barbara Barker wrote this week of the Nets, “Is it really possible they feel they can fix one public relations catastrophe with another? Can it be possible that it wasn’t enough to alienate their Jewish fans, and now the Nets are moving on to women?”

Vaughn, who was in his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Nets, also served as the team’s head coach for a 10-game regular season stint during the 2019-20 season after Kenny Atkinson . He compiled a 7-3 regular season record and guided the Nets through their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors.

Harris who played in the “bubble,” talked as well about Vaughn’s performance back then.

“You know, JV is a great coach,” added Nash. “He, again, he just I think, having played in the NBA for a while they didn’t coach in the league for a while having experienced the head coach having a lot of experience now as an assistant. You know, you’ve seen a lot had a lot of different experiences and it’s kind of fine tune how you know what his approach is. And you know, he really just simplifies the game for like I said that when we were in the bubble, same thing but you know, you make sure that everybody is fully aware of what’s going on, you know, he’s type of coach we got through a scout now, there’s gonna be a lot of transparency and dialogue.

“It’s not just him speaking and hoping everybody understands it’s a collective thing where, you know, he makes sure that everybody fully is aware of what’s going on and understanding what’s what’s happening.”

Udoka previously spent two-plus seasons (2012-15) as head coach of the Orlando Magic and was a pro scout for one season (2015-16) and assistant coach for two seasons (2010-12) with the San Antonio Spurs. He has a 63-167 record as a head coach.

As for Udoka, the decision to hire Vaughn virtually eliminates his chances of being hired anywhere this season.