Just days before the NBA suspended its 2019-20 season, Kenny Atkinson shockingly resigned his post as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, which elevated his top assistant — Jacque Vaughn — to the role of interim head coach. According to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, the Nets are now considering Vaughn as a permanent candidate for the position.
Charania reported on Vaughn’s potential promotion while appearing on the June 9 episode of the Load Management podcast. While discussing the Nets’ head coaching situation with hosts Zach Frydenlund and Adam Caparell, Charania opined that the 45-year-old Vaughn would be given a “legitimate opportunity” to remain Brooklyn’s head coach beyond this season.
“I really do think that the Nets will give Jacque Vaughn a legitimate opportunity to win the job,” Charania said. “This is a guy that comes from the Spurs background, has the same pedigree as [Nets GM] Sean Marks. As far as I know, he does a good job of working with players, building that relationship. As crazy as it is maybe for you guys to hear, Jacque Vaughn is going to get a legitimate opportunity to win this job, and obviously we’ll be able to see that beginning July 31.”
Although he holds a career coaching record of just 60-158 — he previously directed a rebuilding Orlando Magic squad to two losing seasons before getting fired mid-way through year three — Vaughn is the product of an impressive coaching tree and also spent 12 years in the league as a player.
From 2010-12, Vaughn served as an assistant on five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs after having spent his last three years as a player with the team. He also began his playing career by spending four years under the direction of Jerry Sloan — who ranks fourth all-time in head coaching wins, one spot behind Popovich — with the Utah Jazz.
He originally joined the Nets as Atkinson’s top assistant ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Vaughn took over for Atkinson in March, after which the Nets won two games before the pandemic-induced suspension of play. For the season, the team sits in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings at 30-34. The Nets hold a half-game lead over the eighth-place Magic and a six-game advantage over the No. 9 Washington Wizards.
The Nets and the 21 other NBA teams that have been invited to Orlando, Florida to conclude the ’19-20 campaign will play eight games each before proceeding to the playoffs. As a result, Brooklyn is too far behind the conference’s top six clubs to move up the playoff table. However, the NBA will be holding a double-elimination mini-tournament for the No. 8 spot; Brooklyn will have to win games to hold onto its playoff spot.
As reported by The Inquisitr, the New York Knicks are also searching for a new head coach. Tom Thibodeau could be the leading candidate for that position.