Sometimes boring is better.
And it doesn’t get more boring than the Brooklyn Nets hiring Jacque Vaughn to be their new Head Coach.
After Steve Nash, who never should have been brought back this season to begin with, and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to part ways last week, rumors immediately began circulating that owner Joe Tsai wanted to replace Nash with current suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
It’s one thing to erroneously add water to a grease fire, like the Nets did when they traded for Ben Simmons. It’s another thing to try and put out a grease fire with a completely separate grease fire.
Ime Udoka is suspended for an entire season for allegedly carrying on a drama-filled affair with the spouse of someone else in the organization, with the added bonus of the affair also being with a subordinate. The rumors of Udoka’s willingness to leave the Celtics might not have been a surprise to anyone that cringes at the thought having people that were caught up in what Jada Pinkett-Smith would call “an entanglement” having to be in an office together, but the Celtics players were definitely caught off guard, and Udoka not getting the Nets job adds another level of drama to what’s going on in Boston.
While Udoka would have been a home run hire on the basketball end, between his personal life, Kyrie Irving’s personal beliefs, Ben Simmons’ personal vendetta against shooting the basketball, and Kevin Durant’s personality online, there might have been one too many issues to overcome.
Enter Jacque Vaughn- the most boring, but dependable, hire the Brooklyn Nets could have made.
Jacque Vaughn was a steady and solid point guard at Kansas that benefited from having several first round picks around him, like Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag, Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce. Despite never averaging more than 11 points and 7 assists per game in college, he was able to put together a 12-year NBA career.
The NBA has a long history of decent role playing guards with a solid college pedigree going on to be championship coaches. The obvious ones are Pat Riley and Steve Kerr, but you also have Rick Carlisle, Ty Lue and Doc Rivers.
There’s something about guys that get the absolute most out of their talent as players that have the ability to unlock the same trait in others. That’s not to say that Steve Nash didn’t maximize his talent, he went from Santa Clara to winning multiple NBA MVP’s. But Nash was a star in college, and a lottery pick for a reason. He had elite base-level talent. We can’t just be saying that every good thing a white player accomplishes in this league is due to hard work.
But let’s get back to talking about the guy that ironically ended Steve Nash’s college career by holding him to 1/11 shooting in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Jacque Vaughn.
Not only does Vaughn have the credibility of pushing himself past the limit of what he should have been able to accomplish in the NBA, he also has the credibility of having gone up against both Michael Jordan and LeBron James in separate NBA finals. How many coaches can say that?
Vaughn has both played in a playoff game as a member of the Nets, as well as coached the Nets in the 2020 playoffs after Kenny Atkinson resigned. He’s been around as a Nets assistant for the last seven years, so if anyone is aware of all the issues facing this franchise, it’s gotta be him.
Sure, Jacque Vaughn’s first go-round as a head coach was a disaster, but he was in his mid-30’s and trying to make an Orlando Magic team relevant that had Aaron Affalo as one of its best players. Not even Phil Jackson would have had a chance down there.
Sometimes it takes a coach getting an early shot and failing to find their footing. Just look at what Monty Williams has been able to do in Phoenix after flaming out in New Orleans.
The Nets have arguably the most talented starting five in the East, and have obviously been missing a focused, steadfast, diligent locker room voice to channel that talent into wins on the court.
I’m not saying Jacque Vaughn is going to win this team a title, but now that his point guard’s suspension is coming to an end, if he can get Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons all rowing in the same direction, he’ll have worked a basketball miracle and earned himself the respect that he’s long deserved.
Let that sink in.