Home Sports Nets hoping Jacque Vaughn stays to help Steve Nash

Nets hoping Jacque Vaughn stays to help Steve Nash

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Everybody from Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks to his Nets players to his new hire Steve Nash says keeping Jacque Vaughn will be a godsend. But will Vaughn be around to help his rookie head coach, or will he land a top job elsewhere?

Vaughn took over the Nets from the departed Kenny Atkinson, and did yeoman’s work as the interim head coach. His 7-3 record — and juggling of a threadbare coronavirus-ravaged roster in the bubble — nearly got him the permanent job in Brooklyn, and reportedly has him on the radar for vacancies in Houston and Indiana as well.

“Regarding having to let him know that the job was going to go to Steve, that’s never an easy discussion,” Marks said. “It’s never easy to tell somebody, ‘Hey, look, you came out second in this regard.’ But it’s a credit to JV as a man and who he is and wanting to continue to stay here and be a part of something and continue to build. He knows what’s at stake here, and he also knows he’s valued by Steve.

“Steve and JV have had multiple conversations. … I’m really looking forward to not only JV and Steve working together, but once the entire staff is put in place, you have a true collaborative effort.”

That was Marks’ plan when he made Vaughn the highest-paid assistant in the NBA. With Nash never spending time as an assistant, having a former head coach around to help with the game plans, X’s and O’s will prove vital.

“He’s an incredibly high-character individual, extremely hard-working, extremely prepared. He’s an all-around top human being. So to have people like that to work with every day is incredible,” Nash said.

Jacque Vaughn
Jacque VaughnAP

“But also what he’s done for this organization, the work he’s put in, the building he’s done from a cultural and basketball standpoint, the inside knowledge here is invaluable to continue, to have some continuity. I couldn’t think of a better person to have alongside me to work with, to learn from, collaborate with. So I feel very fortunate that he’d remain and willing to be a part of this.”

Others around the league chimed in as well, saying Nash’s hire will work largely because he will have Vaughn to lean on.

“Steve Nash becoming the new head coach of the Nets will really work because they retained coach Jacque Vaughn to help him with the game plan, on the bench, and in practice,” Magic Johnson tweeted.

But will he be around to give Nash that help?

The 45-year-old Vaughn is a candidate for the Pacers vacancy created by the firing of Nate MacMillan, according to ESPN. That makes sense, with Vaughn having been Indiana star Victor Oladipo’s first coach in the league. Then late Sunday night, the Houston Chronicle reported that he’s high on the Rockets’ list after Mike D’Antoni announced he wasn’t coming back.

“I’m definitely a fan of JV. Definitely a big fan of him. What he was able to do with us in the bubble [was] tremendous,” Garrett Temple said. “But also just his demeanor, the way he was able to communicate, he’s shown that he deserves to be a head coach in this league.”

The last time Vaughn got his chance, he went 58-158 in Orlando. He coached Oladipo for his first season-plus, and could be tapped for a reunion.

Of course, the Nets would have to grant any team permission to interview Vaughn, and could conceivably extract a token price for letting him go. But the players he shepherded through the bubble say he deserves another shot as a head coach.

“He’s done a great job winning with less; everybody saw that,” Caris LeVert said. “He brought the group together; if you ask anybody, they’ll tell you the same thing. We’re really proud of the job he did.”

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