Jacque Vaughn

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Porzingis, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

Asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on First Take about rumors that there has been some friction between Mavericks teammates Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, head coach Jason Kidd dismissed the idea that there are any issues between the team’s two leading scorers (video link).

“I think we all heard in the NBA circle that there was tension between the two, but I would have to say that’s fake news,” Kidd told Smith. “… There were some other issues that I thought they did a great job of keeping in-house that had nothing to do with those two.

“I’m excited, I think the relationship between the two of them is at a high level. They’re basketball players who want to compete and who want to win. For a coach, I have to put them in that position to be successful. But I think their relationship is great.”

Smith didn’t press Kidd on what those “other issues” in Dallas were that didn’t involve Doncic or Porzingis, but it’s possible the Mavs’ new head coach is referring to some of the conflicts that were outlined in a report from The Athletic back in June. Presumably, given the way the front office and coaching staff were overhauled this summer, the franchise believes those issues are in the rear-view now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Pelicans Rumors: Griffin, Vaughn, S. Mitchell, Vinson, Hayes

Before the Pelicans decided to hire Willie Green as their new head coach, they were looking hard at Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn, who ultimately removed his name from consideration.

At the time, Vaughn’s desire to spend more time with his family in Brooklyn was cited as the motivating factor for his decision to withdraw, but Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests that Vaughn’s discussions with Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin also played a part. During those conversations, Griffin conveyed that he intended to be involved in determining the team’s rotation, planning players’ skill development, and filling out Vaughn’s coaching staff.

“He wants to have some level of involvement in every decision,” one Pelicans source said of Griffin, per Fischer.

Here’s more out of New Orleans:

  • After Vaughn withdrew from the Pelicans’ coaching search, the team expanded its list of candidates, according to Fischer, who says NBA TV broadcaster and former Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell was among those to receive a call. Mitchell is expected to receive consideration for a spot on Green’s staff, Fischer adds.
  • Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson, who interviewed for the head coaching position, is considered likely to remain in his current role. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Vinson’s interview with New Orleans lasted over four hours and was “exemplary.” Vinson and fellow Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon are said to have good relationships with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, per Fischer.
  • During the interview process, the Pelicans wanted to know how each head coaching candidate would scheme their offense around Williamson and Ingram, and asked them to present development plans for the team’s other young players, writes Fischer.
  • Fischer refers to center Jaxson Hayes as “a personal favorite” of Griffin’s.
  • In case you missed it, the Pelicans are reportedly likely to trade at least one of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams this offseason and may go after Kyle Lowry in free agency.

Coaching Notes: W. Green, Vaughn, Team USA, L. Brown

A new name has surfaced in the Pelicans‘ head coaching search, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says (via Twitter) that Suns assistant Willie Green is a candidate for the top job in New Orleans. While Fischer doesn’t specify whether the Pelicans have already talked to Green or have a meeting lined up with him, he reports that the former NBA wing has interviewed with both the Magic and Wizards, and made strong impression on both clubs.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates:

  • Although Jacque Vaughn decided to withdraw from consideration for all current head coaching openings, the Nets assistant does have interest in becoming a head coach again at some point, a source tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. If the right opportunity present itself a year from now, Vaughn would be more inclined to take it, Scotto says.
  • USA Basketball officially announced that Erik Spoelstra, who is coaching the U.S. Select Team in July, will be joined by a pair of notable assistants: Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, and Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley. The Select Team will primarily consist of younger players and will practice and scrimmage with Team USA’s Olympic squad in advance of the Tokyo games.
  • Penny Hardaway, who announced on Tuesday that he’ll remain at the University of Memphis, will be adding a Hall-of-Fame coach to his staff, as Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link) reports that Larry Brown is joining the Tigers’ staff as an assistant. Brown’s 1,098 NBA regular-season wins are the eighth-most in league history.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along items earlier today on the Wizards’ head coaching search and David Fizdale joining the Lakers’ coaching staff.

Jacque Vaughn Withdraws From Head Coaching Searches

Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn has elected to withdraw his name from the ongoing head coaching searches around the NBA, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Vaughn is citing family reasons, including the opportunity to spend more time with his two teenage sons, as the motivator for his decision. The expectation is that he’ll return to Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn for the 2021/22 season.

Three teams – the Pelicans, Wizards, and Magic – are still seeking a new head coach. However, there hadn’t been reports indicating that Washington and Orlando were considering Vaughn for their respective vacancies.

New Orleans, on the other hand, was said to have Vaughn high on its list of candidates. A report last week suggested that his candidacy for the Pelicans’ job was gaining traction, and a more recent report tabbed him as a potential frontrunner.

If Vaughn was their preferred candidate, the Pelicans will now have to turn to other options. Bucks assistant Charles Lee and New Orleans’ own assistant Fred Vinson are among those believed to be in the mix.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Atkinson, Pelicans, Blazers, Wizards

Although Penny Hardaway has reportedly emerged as a legitimate candidate for the Magic‘s head coaching job, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Kenny Atkinson‘s name continues to be the one most frequently linked to the Orlando job.

As Fischer notes – and as has been reported elsewhere – the Magic are believed to be seeking a candidate who has previous head coaching experience. While Hardaway holds the top job at the University of Memphis, he lacks the NBA experience that Atkinson has. Sources tell Fischer that former Blazers coach Terry Stotts also remains a strong option for Orlando.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors:

  • The Pelicans‘ search is expected to continue until at least later this week, with current New Orleans assistant Fred Vinson still to be interviewed, says Fischer. However, Jacque Vaughn appears to be the frontrunner for that job, sources tell Bleacher Report. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week that Vaughn’s candidacy was gaining traction.
  • Trail Blazers officials were caught off guard by Damian Lillard‘s public support for Jason Kidd early in the team’s coaching search, and several staffers were surprised the All-NBA guard didn’t name former Portland assistant David Vanterpool as his preferred candidate, according to Fischer. Lillard advocated for Vanterpool to be named Minnesota’s coach following Ryan Saunders‘ dismissal earlier in the year.
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon impressed the Trail Blazers during the interview process, but the background intel the team got on Hammon “was not nearly as complimentary pertaining to various aspects of day-to-day coaching responsibilities,” Fischer writes. While team owner Jody Allen liked Hammon, there were doubts about whether she was best suited to navigate “delicate waters” with Lillard, Fischer adds.
  • Fischer says that the Wizards‘ coaching search will be “lengthy and thorough,” which suggests that Washington may end up being the last team to fill its head coaching opening.

Southwest Notes: Mosley, Mavs Front Office, Kidd, Vaughn, Pelicans

Assistant coach Jamahl Mosley is expected to leave the Mavericks, writes Tim Cato of the Athletic. Mosley is a respected coach around the league, and had a particularly close relationship with star Luka Doncic. Mosley had expected to receive serious consideration for the head coach position, but felt that failed to materialize as the team zeroed in on its preferred candidate, Jason Kidd. He will likely be an in-demand assistant coach, even if a head coaching position isn’t offered to him this summer.

In the same article, Cato examines the Mavericks’ front office power structure. The most striking thing, Cato writes, is that despite the overhaul, the structure feels exactly the same. The organization is surrounding new head of basketball operations Nico Harrison with former Mavericks players familiar with the team’s dealings, such as special advisor Dirk Nowitzki, vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley, and head coach Kidd, who is expected to bring on J.J. Barea and possibly Jason Terry as assistant coaches. Team owner Mark Cuban is expected to continue acting as the ultimate decision-maker.

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Kidd’s contract with the Mavericks will be for four years, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The exact amount of the contract is still unclear, but this deal will run until Doncic is 26 years old, a critical period in the All NBA guard’s career.
  • Jacque Vaughn is gaining traction to become the head coach of the Pelicans, as Brian Windhorst reported this week. William Guillory of The Athletic examines how Vaughn – a current Brooklyn assistant and former Orlando head coach – could fit in New Orleans, as well as potential question marks for the coach, including the Magic’s lack of success with him at the helm, as well as the question of if he would continue to utilize star Zion Williamson as a point forward or rely more on the traditional guards.
  • Next season will mark the third coach in three years for the Pelicans, and Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes that it could be president of basketball operations David Griffin‘s last chance to get it right for a while. It will be crucial for Griffin to examine where and why Alvin Gentry and Stan Van Gundy couldn’t succeed in New Orleans, or else the team will be forced into another reset that it cannot afford. “The real issue moving forward is finding somebody who you’re in lockstep with,” Griffin said. “And that includes ownership as well. That has to be something we’re moving with together and moving with the same spirit and same energy. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Coaching Rumors: Wizards, Morrison, Cassell, Pelicans, Vaughn, Carlisle

We haven’t heard about many candidates linked to the Wizards‘ head coaching job since the team announced Scott Brooks wouldn’t be returning for the 2021/22 season. However, it sounds like Washington’s search is moving forward.

Celtics assistant Scott Morrison told Peter Yannopoulos of RDS (Twitter link) that he has interviewed for the Wizards’ head coaching job. Morrison also interviewed for the open position in Boston before the team decided to hire Ime Udoka. With Udoka likely to bring in some new assistants, Morrison’s future with the C’s is unclear.

Meanwhile, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on his Hoop Collective podcast that Sam Cassell and Wes Unseld Jr. are considered two of the leading candidates for the Wizards’ job (hat tip to RealGM). Cassell is currently an assistant with the Sixers, while Unseld – who has previously been mentioned as a contender for the Washington job – is a Nuggets assistant.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates and notes from around the NBA:

  • Windhorst also said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast that Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn has emerged as a legit contender for the Pelicans‘ head coaching vacancy. “I’m not saying he’s going to get (the) job, because Charles Lee on the Bucks‘ staff is also going to be a strong candidate,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “The word coming out of Chicago at the draft combine is that Jacque Vaughn, who is close to (Pelicans GM) Trajan Langdon… Jacque Vaughn is going to get a real serious look.” ESPN reported earlier in the week that both Vaughn and Lee were interviewing with New Orleans.
  • On that same Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon suggested that former Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle may have felt threatened in Dallas by assistant Jamahl Mosley‘s close relationship with Luka Doncic (hat tip to RealGM). Carlisle’s endorsement of Jason Kidd for the job could be viewed through that lens. “I think Rick understood the perception of how (the endorsement of Kidd) might impact who he didn’t endorse,” MacMahon said, adding of Carlisle and Mosley: “I don’t think those guys will necessarily send each other Christmas cards.”
  • Carlisle spoke to other teams with coaching openings before finalizing a deal with the Pacers, but Indiana was where the mutual interest was strongest, says J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscriber-only article). According to Michael, Carlisle and the Pacers didn’t even meet face-to-face, completing their four-year deal over the phone.

Pelicans To Interview Jacque Vaughn, Charles Lee

The Pelicans have received permission to interview Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn and Bucks assistant Charles Lee for their open head coaching position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Vaughn is one of several Nets assistants receiving interest this offseason as a head coaching candidate, along with Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka. Vaughn served as the head coach of the Magic from 2012-15 and briefly assumed control of the Nets last summer following Kenny Atkinson‘s dismissal. He has otherwise worked as an assistant coach in San Antonio and Brooklyn since 2010.

Lee, meanwhile, began his coaching career as an assistant at Bucknell in 2012. Since 2014, he has been a Mike Budenholzer lieutenant, having worked under Budenholzer in Atlanta from 2014-18 and in Milwaukee from 2018 until the present. Lee has also been mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate for Boston and Orlando this month.

The Pelicans, who are seeking a replacement for Stan Van Gundy, are also expected to consider some in-house options, including assistant coach Fred Vinson. Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, and Udoka are the other external candidates who have been cited as possible targets for New Orleans, though it’s unclear if any of them will interview for the job.

Pelicans Part Ways With Stan Van Gundy

11:08am: The Pelicans have officially announced Van Gundy’s exit, stating in a press release that the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team,” Griffin said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim and their family all the best in the future.”

9:57am: Stan Van Gundy will not return to the Pelicans for the 2021/22 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN, who report (via Twitter) that Van Gundy is out after just one year as New Orleans’ head coach.

Van Gundy and Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin have met regularly since the end of the regular season to discuss the team’s future, and a divorce between the team and its coach began to feel like an inevitable outcome around the organization, tweets Wojnarowski.

Van Gundy, who previously coached the Heat, Magic, and Pistons, spent a couple years as an NBA analyst from 2018-20 before returning to the head coaching ranks in 2020, when he was hired by the Pelicans. He had a disappointing season in New Orleans, however — a team that entered the year with playoff aspirations finished with a 31-41 (.431) record, missing the play-in tournament.

Replacing Alvin Gentry on the Pelicans’ sidelines, Van Gundy emphasized improving the team’s defense, but failed to do so, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans ranked 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions, two spots worse than in 2019/20. The Pels also had trouble closing out games, losing 14 times when they held a double-digit lead.

Clark writes that Van Gundy struggled to connect with many of the Pelicans’ young players, who didn’t adapt well to the drastic shift from Gentry’s coaching style to Van Gundy’s. Sources tell NOLA.com that Van Gundy’s relationship with star forward Brandon Ingram was “strained” for much of the season.

Van Gundy joins Nate Bjorkgren, formerly of the Pacers, as the head coaches who were let go this spring after just one year on the job.

The fifth team to launch a head coaching search since the regular season ended, the Pelicans are expected to look both inside and outside of the organization as they seek Van Gundy’s replacement.

Several reporters – including Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Will Guillory of The Athletic, and Marc Stein of The New York Times (all Twitter links) – say that current Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon is a strong contender for the position, while O’Connor also identifies Fred Vinson as a candidate.

As for external candidates, Wojnarowski names Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, and Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka as possibilities, noting that the Pelicans considered some of those coaches a year ago before hiring Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, meanwhile, could receive some consideration from the other four teams with head coaching openings, but may prefer to step away again after a trying season. A return to broadcasting is one possibility for the veteran coach.

Nets Notes: Durant, Harden, LeVert, Irving, More

Asked today about reports that he and James Harden have talked about teaming up in Brooklyn, Nets forward Kevin Durant dismissed the idea that such a plan has been in the works, as Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com writes.

“I don’t know where you making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant said on a conference call with reporters. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff.

“I was just so focused on working out,” he continued. “I heard all the noise and I heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets but anybody could make up stories. Anybody can write a story and it gets some traction so nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone.”

While the Nets have been frequently linked to Harden in recent weeks, it doesn’t sound like they ever made any real progress on a trade for the Rockets star. Shams Charania of The Athletic suggested during an appearance on Complex’s Load Management podcast that Brooklyn doesn’t have the sort of young star that would appeal to Houston as the centerpiece of a package for Harden.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Charania also said on the Load Management podcast that the Nets were unwilling to include Caris LeVert in their trade offer for Jrue Holiday last month, as NetsDaily relays. According to Charania, Durant and Kyrie Irving view LeVert as “a very significant part of this team.”
  • Durant spoke to reporters today about the challenges of recovering from an Achilles tear, writes Scott Thompson of SNY.tv. “Those milestones of learning how to walk, learning how to run, jump again and getting used to certain movements again, I think that’s underestimated,” Durant said. “People don’t realize that the Achilles ligament is one of the strongest ligaments in your body. So for that to pop, you gotta build that up and that takes a while.”
  • Asked today about whether Durant and Irving will be load-managed during the 2020/21 season, Nets head coach Steve Nash acknowledged that the two stars likely won’t play all 72 games, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. However, Nash didn’t suggest there’s any set plan in place for resting those returning All-Stars.
  • Nash said today that he plans on having Mike D’Antoni lead the Nets’ offense and Jacque Vaughn lead the team’s defense, but his entire staff of assistants will provide input on both sides of the ball (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).
  • In case you missed it, Brooklyn announced its initial 20-man training camp roster earlier this afternoon.