In what was shocking news to many, the Brooklyn Nets named Jacque Vaughn as head coach on a deal that runs through the 2023-24 NBA season, according to reports, amidst the constant rumors surrounding former Celtics coach, Ime Udoka. Nets fans heard from their newest head coach before Wednesday's game as well as general manager, Sean Marks.
Marks, who spoke first on Wednesday, indicated that this was Vaughn’s job to lose despite the constant outside noise about other candidates. He also touted Vaughn, 47, for his composure while helming things on the sideline.
“Finding somebody with some stability,” said Marks of the Nets' goals during the hiring process. “That’s very, very stable, poised under pressure. Gentlemen, that’s sort of who (Vaughn) is. He’s seen it all. He knows all of us. There’s a relationship here that he already has with whether it’s front office and staff and also the players. So at this particular time, to be honest, we were gonna have to find somebody better than JV in order for it not to be JV.”
Marks was visibly pleased by the performance of Vaughn, who has gone 2-2 as the acting head coach since Steve Nash’s departure, calling him the “catalyst” to the team’s recently revitalized performance.
“Personally, I like the way the team has been playing. I mean, they’ve been competing at a high level, but they’ve obviously rallied around each other. You know, they’ve rallied around the coaching staff, they’ve rallied around JV. He’s been the catalyst for that. So I’ve got to give him credit,” said Marks. “I think he’s shown us that they’ve taken the right steps on the way and they continue to show improvement and again, it’s just I look at the camaraderie that the players have shown, you know, they’re having fun, they’re enjoying each other and they’re competing at a high level.”
Marks later stated, “these last four games, it became evident that we didn’t need to look elsewhere.”
Relationships also played a big role in the hiring of Vaughn, said Marks, who has been with the Nets organization since the 2016-17 season and has known Marks since their days in San Antonio.
“He’s been a part of the Brooklyn Nets family for quite some time. So, you know, we’re ecstatic that he’s gonna remain our head coach. There’s a number of factors why JV was the right fit,” said Marks. “Obviously, I’ve known JV for a long time and all of us have. He’s been a part of this culture. He’s been a part of what we’ve been building here over the years. We look at the person he is, we look at his connection with players.”
Vaughn, of course, was honored by the front office for putting their faith in him to lead this next era of Nets basketball. He stated that his honesty and approachability as a coach were among his biggest strengths as a leader—and assumptively, why he got this job. Brooklyn’s 24th head coach in franchise history also provided some insight on his staff, which now has an opening given his promotion.
“Yeah, kind of an ongoing conversation with Sean,” said Vaughn about filling the vacant staff. “I did tell the staff there’s no one on the staff that right now will be leaving. The staff has been unbelievable, great connection with the guys and so the staff that is here will remain here.”
Marks was asked about the aforementioned Udoka, who was heavily rumored to be Brooklyn’s next coach throughout the last two weeks. He gave what could best be described as a non-answer.
“Like all other searches we’ve ever done, whether it’s front office or coaching staff, it’s never appropriate to talk about who may or may not have been a candidate for this job,” said Marks. “All I can tell you is there was an exhaustive search. We’ve been through candidates and we’ll leave it at that.”
Vaughn gave a hilarious response to the Udoka reports, calling himself the “write-in candidate” and comparing his new job to his marriage.
“I guess I was the was at the write-in candidate in the minds of the elections right now, but I’m okay with that,” explained Vaughn. “I said to my wife, I might have not been her first choice and we’ve been together 20 years so you know, it could all work out.”
Last but certainly not least, Marks was asked about the input of franchise superstar Kevin Durant on the hiring process. The GM promptly shut that notion down.
“Kevin’s job here is to go out and play basketball and that’s what he wants to do. That’s what he enjoys to do. And let’s let him go and do that,” said Marks. “My job here is to try to put this organization in the best place moving forward and what we need to fulfill our needs right now. That decision was not up to Kevin.”
The Vaughn hire also turned out to be historic. As Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s Andscape wrote Wednesday, “For the first time in NBA history, most of the head coaches are now African American, just like the majority of the players.”
Vaughn is the 16th African-American head coach.
In other news, there was an update of sorts on Kyrie Irving, who is currently in the midst of an indefinite suspension for posting a link to a documentary, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, that was littered with anti-semitic tropes to his social media accounts. Irving met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday for a discussion about the controversy that was characterized as “productive” by Shams Charania.
Marks began by stating that there were no updates regarding Irving or his return to the team. Irving has been instructed that he must fulfill a variety of requirements in order to be re-instated—antisemitism and sensitivity training, a $500,000 donation to help combat hate speech, a meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish leaders, and a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai—though Marks was not asked about this.
Marks did, however, tell reporters that he has not personally met with Irving since the suspension. “I have talked to his representatives,” explained Marks. “At the appropriate time when we do talk and if there’s an update to share, I will certainly share it.”
And for those wondering, Vaughn has not made any contact with Irving even despite the big news of him being named the team’s newest head coach.
“I hadn’t talked to Kai and I still haven’t,” said Vaughn. “I thought in the capacity that I was serving that it wasn’t my place to. I’ve always understood my boundaries as an assistant coach and that could change going forward in the position that I’m in now.”
- Meghan Triplett speaks to new Nets coach Jacque Vaughn (Video) - YES Network
- Nets did the right thing by naming Jacque Vaughn coach - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Why Jacque Vaughn could signal a move in the right direction for Nets - Jake Fischer - Yahoo! Sports
- Nets have ‘nothing to share’ as Kyrie Irving’s progress remains unknown - Mark W. Sanchez - New York Post
- Nets name assistant Jacque Vaughn head coach: Why Brooklyn moved on from potential Ime Udoka hire - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Nets name Jacque Vaughn as head coach - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Nets GM Sean Marks hasn’t spoken with Kyrie Irving since suspension - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Nets tab Jacque Vaughn as Steve Nash’s full-time replacement - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets Name Jacque Vaughn Head Coach: ‘He Really Simplifies The Game’ - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- How the Nets ‘Write-In Candidate’ Landed The Head Coach Job - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- Nets Sean Marks, Jacque Vaughn Haven’t Spoken To Suspended Kyrie Irving - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- Brooklyn Nets’ hire of Jacque Vaughn historic for the NBA - Marc J. Spears - Andscape