The Nets named Jacque Vaughn as head coach Wednesday to replace Steve Nash, who was fired last week. Vaughn has coached the team in an interim capacity in the four games since then.
Vaughn took over at a particularly fraught time for the organization, whose star point guard, Kyrie Irving, posted a link to an antisemitic film on Twitter in late October. The Nets suspended Irving indefinitely for refusing to disavow antisemitism. He has missed three games, and the team said he would miss at least two more.
The Nets have a 2-2 record under Vaughn.
“Jacque’s basketball acumen, competitiveness and intimate knowledge of our team and organization make him the clear-cut best person to lead our group moving forward,” General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement Wednesday. “He has a proven ability to get the best out of our players, hold them accountable and play a cohesive, team-first style of basketball.”
Vaughn has been an assistant coach for the Nets since 2016 and served as an interim head coach in 2020 after Kenny Atkinson was fired as coach.
The team announced Nov. 1 that it had agreed to part ways with Nash. Not long afterward, news media reports began to link the Nets with Ime Udoka, the Boston Celtics coach who had been suspended for violating unspecified team policies. According to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak about it publicly, Udoka had a relationship with a female subordinate.
The Nets have not said whether they were considering Udoka to replace Nash. The Celtics have given Udoka permission to talk to other teams and will not demand compensation if another team signs him, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Nash initially had the support of Irving and forward Kevin Durant when he was hired in 2020, but he presided over a chaotic time for the franchise that included: Irving missing most of the 2021-22 season because he would not get vaccinated against the coronavirus; injuries to Durant and Ben Simmons; and James Harden being traded to the Nets from Houston — and then to Philadelphia from the Nets as the team struggled last season.
This summer, The Athletic reported that Durant had asked the team owner Joe Tsai to choose between him or Marks and Nash. Nash, Marks and Durant all said at media day in September that they were ready to move on together.
Healthy again to start this season, the Nets continued to struggle. They began the year 2-5 before firing Nash. Marks said that players had “zero” input on the decision, and that he and Nash “felt that it was time.”
“If I sat here and listed one by one all the things that he had to go through over his tenure here, I’d be doing him a disservice because he doesn’t want excuse,” Marks said. “That’s not who he is. So he has certainly not had an even playing field over two years here. And for that, I certainly feel definitely some responsibility because this does not all fall on him.”
This is a breaking story and will update.