Following the recent firing of Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, reports are now suggesting that Kyrie Irving is pushing for a familiar face to take over on a long-term basis — former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.
At the moment, Jacque Vaughn is serving as the Nets’ interim head coach, and it isn’t clear whether the team will stick with him until the end of the 2019-20 season. However, Yahoo Sports‘ Vincent Goodwill cited sources that claimed Irving “currently prefers” Lue as Atkinson’s permanent replacement, having allegedly “soured” on the latter early on in the season.
Lue was in charge of the Cavaliers when Irving and LeBron James led the team to their first-ever championship in the 2016 NBA Finals. However, he was fired early in the 2018-19 campaign after the rebuilding Cavs lost the first six games of the season, marking his last experience as an NBA head coach. Last summer, he was among the rumored candidates for the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coaching job that ultimately went to Frank Vogel.
At present, Lue serves as an assistant coach to Doc Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers. As noted by Bleacher Report, the 42-year-old remains a well-respected leader among the league’s top players, despite his current status as an assistant.
With their 28-34 record putting them at seventh place in the Eastern Conference, the Nets are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. This is despite multiple key injuries — Irving won’t be returning to the court after playing just 20 games this season, while his fellow superstar free-agent acquisition, Kevin Durant, has long been expected to miss the entire 2019-20 campaign. As such, the Nets’ head coaching vacancy is expected to become one of this summer’s most coveted, with familiar faces such as Lue and David Fizdale (formerly with the New York Knicks) among the rumored candidates, per Bleacher Report.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) March 8, 2020
Despite the presence of those established names, Bleacher Report also speculated that Vaughn might also have a chance of sticking around and becoming the Nets’ permanent head coach. Given that he was a backup floor leader for several NBA teams during his time as a player, Vaughn has reportedly been clicking with Irving since taking the interim job after Atkinson’s dismissal.
“We have the immediate connection of being point guards,” Vaughn said, as quoted by Yahoo Sports. “We’ve formed a relationship, which I’ve tried to with each guy, but I guess we’re able to talk in point guard language.”