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Why Jack Vaughn could signal a move in the right direction for the Nets

Why Jack Vaughn could signal a move in the right direction for the Nets

NEW YORK – Semantics matter, especially in NBA headlines. Following the split of the Brooklyn Nets and former coach Steve Nash, the franchise appointed longtime assistant coach Jack Vaughn as the acting head coach, in contrast to the temporary title Vaughn received when he held Kenny Atkinson’s first chair during the disintegrating 2019-20 season.

Vaughn was only told he would be overseeing last Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls. The Nets were, as widely reported, going ahead with the appointment of suspended Boston Celtics coach Amy Odoka, despite the Boston player being sidelined due to an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. There were contractual clauses and other hurdles to clear, but the eventual succession of Odoka appears to have been a foregone conclusion, according to several people familiar with the Nets training research.

Then Vaughn was asked to run the nets practice on Thursday. He was then tasked with a three-game road trip coaching, collecting wins in Washington and Charlotte before narrow defeats in Dallas, with no interest in moving forward on Odoka’s potential recruitment. So Vaughn continued training, and continued to work, as the coach described, in whatever role the organization needed. By Wednesday, Brooklyn announced that he would remain as the team’s coach. Vaughn has reportedly signed a new contract that runs until the 2023-24 season.

“I think I was the biblical candidate, on election minds right now, but I’m OK with that,” Vaughn quipped to reporters. “I told my wife, I might not have been her first choice, and we’ve been together for 20 years.”

Jack Vaughn points to his team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Saturday, November 5, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Exactly why Vaughn, and not Odoka, was sitting in front of the assembled media ahead of Wednesday night’s tip against the Crosstown New York Knicks remains a mystery. Amid public outcry, and much resentment from members of the opposing team, there were credible complaints about the league that Commissioner Adam Silver’s office was providing a form of friction between hiring Brooklyn and Odoka. And while there were no official reasons for the commissioner to reject the team members’ decision, and there was no precedent for the NBA directly barring team assignments, there was nothing to prevent the league from imposing more creative avenues, perhaps even initiating a subsequent suspension. Oduka if Brooklyn actually hires him as head coach. After all, Silver played a direct role in introducing the Sixers’ ownership to Jerry Colangelo before eventually completing Sam Hinkie’s tenure in Philadelphia.

But this is now the iPhone moment. There were many figures throughout the Brooklyn basketball operations who believed Vaughn was the man for the job after his 7-3 stint in the 2020 Orlando bubble before General Manager Sean Marks hired Nash to try out this star-led roster.

Vaughn is loved throughout the NBA and has been widely praised as a great and true communicator as much as he comes in with a career where a lot of dogs eat other dogs. The fact that Brooklyn completed a spirited road trip 2-1 under Vaughn’s direction certainly helped matters in his favour. Marx went so far as to see Vaughn as a catalyst for his team’s success away from home.

“During these last four games, it has become clear that we don’t need to look elsewhere,” Marks said.

This will be Vaughn’s second stint as head coach after two or more seasons at the helm of Orlando from 2012-2015. He impressed the Magic players then with his enthusiasm and fitness for the job, literally jumping in and out of rehearsals as if he was still playing in the NBA himself. Vaughn adds 12 years as a league mainstay to his credentials among the players, and still often finds he plays an active role in practice at the age of 47, still working effectively as a ball coach in some walking scenarios, when that grunt The work is often left to player development staff and video coordinators.

Vaughn has been praised most often for his personality and is said to be a hardwood-mounted teacher. Various personalities from Brooklyn mentioned his direct and easy-to-digest method for instilling his principles to players. Some coaches can be harsh and aggressive, assert their authority over the situation, and take a proactive approach to getting respect off the list. Vaughn allegedly understands the dynamic of how and when he can talk, whether that’s by calling up a player directly in front of a group or pulling someone to the side. That ingenuity was fully visible throughout the bubble.

“You can see the way the guys gravitated towards Jack, his training, his teaching and his charismatic behavior,” a Nets employee told Yahoo Sports.

Vaughn was particularly instrumental in maximizing Caris LeVert, one of the Nets’ little gems that were mined during the original rebuilding of this Brooklyn system. LeVert’s solo ascent depended as much on his health as on skill development, and Vaughn was able to talk LeVert off the edge whenever the combo ranger sought extra work on the ground, warning Brooklyn’s medical staff to rest amid his ongoing foot injuries.

One freeze frame is still lingering in the minds of Brooklyn employees. Levert suffered a horrific leg injury in Minnesota in November 2018, soaring high to block the transition attempt, but then collapsed to the ground in a pile. However, before a stretcher was called to take Levert to proper care, there was Vaughn, the first coach out onto the field, kneeling beside his pupil with a roll of papers in one hand and his other palm resting on Levert’s shoulder as he wept. drunk.

When LeVert was healthy, he of course blossomed into an excellent opportunity worthy of Brooklyn’s package for the later acquisition of James Harden. He starred under Vaughn in The Orlando Bubble. During six games in July and August, Levert scored 25 points with 6.7 assists in 33.1 minutes.

Those reductive networks, without both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, climbed into the post-season under their interim leader. Vaughn used hyperactive zone defenses to battle a much larger Milwaukee team. The Brooklyn unit that started Timothy Lowe Caparrot, Rodion’s Corrocks, Tyler Johnson and Garrett Temple as well as Lance Thomas featured a three-point win over the Giannis Antetokonmo Bucks, then considered the Eastern Conference favorite. In Brooklyn’s last game before that post-season, despite losing one point to Portland, Vaughn had the Nets trap littered with Damian Lillard’s trap all the way in the backcourt to try and force the ball out of his hot hands.

Competing scouts expect to see more areas of Brooklyn this season. This summer, Vaughn and other Nets coaches were considering different area schemes to help bolster Brooklyn’s defensive efforts when two junior players – like Irving or Patty Mills and Seth Curry – partner, sources said. Vaughn will have a carte blanche to be creative with his schemes. When Durant sought a duty to guard Luka Doncic in Dallas Monday night, Vaughn bowed to his star competitiveness and canceled his original assignments.

Brooklyn has found a natural attraction about Durant in these past few games. The manner in which Ben Simmons returns to the fold will be an important component of the Nets’ success under Vaughn. Irving’s status, who continues to serve suspension for posting an anti-Semitic video on social media and subsequent refusal to accept accountability for helping spread harmful misinformation, looms large as the season’s greatest misery. Both Marks and Vaughn told reporters they had not criminalized any contact with Irving since he was banned from at least five games.

However, nits chose a new straw to stir this drink. And throughout the mud that surrounded the franchise, Vaughn’s hiring seems to have rounded out the NBA as a win for one of the good guys.

“You just do what you’re supposed to do, man, every day, and I hope you get rewarded for it,” Vaughn said. “And if you don’t, you can look in the mirror every night. And if you get a reward, go.”


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