NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets officially named Jacque Vaughn head coach on Wednesday.
Vaughn’s promotion comes with a deal through the 2023-24 season, sources have told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Vaughn had served as interim head coach since former coach Steve Nash was replaced on Nov. 1. The move comes as a surprise given that many in the league — and some within the organization — believed suspended Boston Celtics coach and former Nets assistant Ime Udoka would take over from Nash.
The Nets backed out of an initial plan to hire Udoka based on several factors, including a protracted anti-Semitism controversy with Kyrie Irving coupled with the impending disruption that would have accompanied Udoka’s hiring following his suspension in Boston for an inappropriate relationship. with a subordinate, sources told Wojnarowski.
Once Vaughn stabilized the team, his promotion made more sense for the organization, sources told Wojnarowski.
“Jacque’s basketball acumen, competitiveness and intimate knowledge of our team and our organization make him the best person to lead our group going forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. , in a press release. “He has a proven ability to get the most out of our players, empower them and play a consistent, team-oriented style of basketball.”
In their first game with Vaughn officially at the helm, the Nets beat the Knicks 112-85 for their third win in four games.
Vaughn, who served as the team’s head coach for 10 regular season games during the 2019-20 season, was in the middle of his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Nets.
“JV is a great coach,” Nets guard Joe Harris said ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. “Having played in the NBA for a while, coached in the league for a while, having experience as a head coach, having a lot of experience now as an assistant, he’s seen a lot, had a lot of different experiences, he kind of tweaked his approach.
“He really simplifies the game, I said when we were in the bubble, same thing, but he makes sure everyone is fully aware of what’s going on. He’s the type of coach we let’s scout [report] — there will be a lot of transparency and dialogue. It’s not just him talking hoping everyone understands. It’s a collective thing where he makes sure everyone is fully aware of what’s going on and understands what’s going on.”
Marks said before Wednesday’s game that he hadn’t spoken to Irving, but had “spoken to his reps.”
“On the Kyrie front, when we have news to share and updates, we’ll do so when the time is right,” Marks said. “At this time, there is nothing to share.”
The Nets later clarified that Marks initially spoke to Irving after the social media posts last week, but had not spoken to him since the suspension.
As for the Udoka speculation, Marks wouldn’t address it directly.
“Like all other research we have done, whether it’s hospitality staff or coaches, 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 that there was an exhaustive search, we went through the candidates and we’ll leave it at that.”
Vaughn tried to keep his sense of humor regarding all the speculation surrounding Udoka.
“I guess I was the candidate in the spirit of the election right now,” Vaughn said before the game. “But I’m ok with that. I told my wife that I might not be her first choice, but we’ve been together for 20 years, so everything could be fine, so let’s go .”
Vaughn previously served as head coach of the Orlando Magic for over two seasons from 2012 to 2015.
The Nets were 2-2 with Vaughn as interim coach.
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