Jacque Vaughn

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, LeVert, Luwawu-Cabarrot

Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been “brutally honest” with their input into the team’s coaching situation, but neither will be in Orlando to watch interim coach Jacque Vaughn in action, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. General manager Sean Marks discussed their input during a Friday interview with WFAN.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far. I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Marks noted that Irving is “doing well” in his recovery from shoulder surgery in March, but implied that the team never gave serious consideration to having Irving or Durant play in Orlando, citing the “risk-reward” factor and how it could affect the franchise in the long run.

There’s more Nets news this morning:

  • With a severely short-handed team headed for the NBA’s restart, Brooklyn’s next decision will be how much to use Caris LeVert, Lewis adds in the same piece. LeVert has a history of being injured and is considered the team’s best trade asset if it decides to pursue a third star. “I don’t make those decisions; I feel like that’s outside of me. That’s Sean and ownership. That’s not really my job to think of those things,” LeVert said.
  • The Nets’ roster woes will provide an opportunity for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to prove he deserves a larger role, Lewis states in a separate story. After being waived in a preseason, then working his way onto the roster through a two-way contract and a pair of 10-day deals, Luwawu-Cabarrot should see plenty of playing time in Orlando. “It’s huge for us, huge for me,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to miss them. But as we say this year and as it’s always been, it’s next man up. You have to stay ready and be ready to play … I’m sure they’ll support us and we’ll try and do the best job we can.”
  • Matt Brooks and Chris Milholen of NetsDaily discuss potential replacements for DeAndre Jordan, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Durant, Irving

Given how depleted Brooklyn’s roster is as a result of injuries and opt-outs, head coach Jacque Vaughn will face a tall task in Orlando this summer as he looks to help the Nets secure a playoff spot and make some noise in the postseason, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Vaughn, who took over for former head coach Kenny Atkinson less than a week before the NBA went on hiatus in March, won his first two games, but will be without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Nicolas Claxton, and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie when play resumes.

Given the unusual circumstances, the Nets’ evaluation of Vaughn this summer will be about more than just his record in Orlando, general manager Sean Marks said on Wednesday, as Lewis writes in a separate story.

“It’s completely unfair to say it’s going to be about wins and losses at this point. Jacque has been a prominent part of this organization the last four years,” Marks said. “We know what Jacque is about and the type of person he is and the character and the leader that he is. … We’ll just see what happens down the line.”

Although the Nets are considered a good bet to conduct a full-fledged coaching search at season’s end, reports have indicated that Vaughn has a legitimate chance to claim the permanent job. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reiterated that point during his Woj Pod podcast this week, suggesting that he’d take Vaughn against the field if he were predicting Brooklyn’s 2020/21 head coach (hat tip to RealGM).

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Despite their gutted roster, the Nets never entertained the possibility of skipping the NBA restart altogether, Marks said on Wednesday, per Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. “Look, we have a job to do,” the GM told reporters. “Again, we have to bring a team to Orlando. We will bring a team to Orlando. We will go down there and we will compete. That’s our jobs here.”
  • Although Kevin Durant won’t be active – or in attendance – when the Nets resume play later this month, the former MVP will continue to have a voice in the team’s basketball decisions leading up to the 2020/21 season, according to Marks. “He continues to be a very loud voice in terms of where we’re going in the future and what we’re doing and I involve him like the other players and staff and how we’ll continue to build this team and how we move forward,” Marks told reporters, including Ian Begley of SNY.tv. The GM added that he’s been in touch with Durant regularly since the hiatus began in March.
  • Marks also confirmed on Wednesday that Kyrie Irving won’t be part of the Nets’ traveling party to Orlando this summer, writes Begley.

Jacque Vaughn Has Legit Chance To Be Nets’ Long-Term Coach

After taking over as the interim coach of the Nets earlier this season, Jacque Vaughn has a “legitimate” chance to keep the gig beyond this season, as Shams Charania of The Athletic explained on the Load Management podcast (hat tip to NetsDaily).

“This is a guy that comes from the Spurs background, has the same pedigree as (Nets general manager) Sean Marks, Charania said on the podcast. “As far as I know, he does a good job at working with players, building that relationship.”

Marks and Vaughn won championships playing for the Spurs in 2005 and 2007, respectively, though they didn’t overlap in San Antonio as players. Vaughn was later in the organization as a scout while Marks was an assistant GM.

Kenny Atkinson was ousted in March and his offense was among the reasons why.

“There were a few things,” Charania added. “Let’s start early in training camp. The offense he still wanted to go with was something that didn’t vibe with his best players, from Kyrie Irving to Kevin Durant to Spencer Dinwiddie on … and so forth … which was a free for all offense. It wasn’t like a set regime, a set style. He still wanted to play the way they were kind of playing with D’Angelo Russell. And I don’t think guys went with that.”

It’s not exactly clear what kind of plans Vaughn has for the offense, as the 45-year-old coach only had two games to showcase his leadership skills. Following Atkinson’s dismissal, Brooklyn went 2-0 before the league suspended its season. Vaughn will get at least eight more games to showcase his ability when the Nets head to Orlando at the end of July.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Irving, Sixers, VanVleet

The Nets would be a much different team if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both return when the season resumes, and Greg Logan of Newsday looks at how having them on the court would affect the rest of the lineup. Durant will have had more than 13 months to recover from a torn Achilles tendon if games start again on July 31, while Irving will be nearly five months removed from shoulder surgery.

Logan believes Durant would take Taurean Prince‘s role in the starting lineup, while Irving would push Spencer Dinwiddie to the bench. That would give Brooklyn a stronger second team, along with Jarrett Allen, Wilson Chandler and probably Garrett Temple. If Durant and Irving don’t return, Logan notes, the Nets will have to rely on playoff minutes from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Chris Chiozza.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The return to action will give interim coach Jacque Vaughn a chance to prove himself under fire, Logan adds in the same story. Vaughn has coached just two games since taking over for Kenny Atkinson, but he already made a significant move, replacing Allen in the starting lineup with DeAndre Jordan. The Nets are rumored to have interest in some high-profile coaches, but Vaughn will get to show what he can do in a high-pressure atmosphere.
  • If Ben Simmons is fully recovered from a back injury, the Sixers could return with a starting lineup that has never played together, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Shortly after Simmons got hurt in late February, coach Brett Brown decided to replace Al Horford as a starter and eventually settled on Shake Milton. Simmons, Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid haven’t taken the court together at all this season.
  • Fred VanVleet believes the Raptors are in good position to defend their NBA title, relays Scott Rafferty of NBA.com. VanVleet discussed Toronto’s chances during an appearance this week on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I think that’s part of the reason that everyone wants to get back, at least from our camp,” he said. “We knew we had a good chance, as good a chance as anybody from obviously what we did last year and then to come back after losing Kawhi (Leonard) and Danny (Green) to have the team that we had this year.”

New York Notes: Lin, Knicks, CP3, Nets

Although “Linsanity” represented one of the most memorable runs in recent Knicks history, Jeremy Lin‘s time in New York was ultimately short-lived. The point guard only appeared in 35 games for the franchise, departing in restricted free agency following his breakout 2011/12 season.

Revisiting his departure in a conversation this week with MSG Network broadcaster Mike Breen, Lin said he wanted to remain with the Knicks in 2012. New York encouraged him to find an offer sheet in restricted free agency, and he hoped the team would match it, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details.

“I was only offered one contract,” Lin told Breen. “We couldn’t get anything from any other team. And so, I had to go find a contract from somebody. And I remember when Houston gave the offer, I said to (my agent), ‘Can you tell Houston to lower the offer? This is too much. Can you tell someone to lower the offer?’ Because I wanted to go back to New York and I wanted New York to match.

“The time there, with the fans, everything. It was so special. I was like, ‘I need to go back to New York,'” Lin continued. “That’s where my heart is. So, I call my agent and said, ‘Hey, find a way to get out of Houston. Give me a less good contract so that New York will match it,’ and he said, ‘We can’t, this is Houston’s final offer and we’ve been talking to them for a week, two weeks, three weeks, this is it.'”

As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), reporting at the time suggested that Lin was initially planning to sign a four-year, $28MM offer sheet from Houston, which the Knicks were expected to match. The Rockets adjusted it to make it a three-year, $25MM deal with a $15MM “poison pill” salary in year three. According to Berman, Knicks owner James Dolan was “bitter” about the reworked offer, believing it was Lin’s idea.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Following up on a series of March reports which suggested the Knicks may have interest in trading for Chris Paul during the offseason, Ian Begley of SNY.tv proposes a pair of hypothetical trade scenarios and explores how they would impact the club’s cap going forward.
  • According to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, there are some people within the Nets‘ organization rooting for interim head coach Jacque Vaughn to get the full-time job, though that may be a long shot given the names that have already surfaced as potential options. Michael Lee, Joe Vardon, and Sam Amick join Schiffer to debate the pros and cons of the Nets’ rumored coaching candidates and to suggest other targets for the club to consider.
  • Our latest roundup of Knicks notes was published on Wednesday night, with our most recent collection of Notes notes posted on Sunday. Be sure to visit the New York and Brooklyn team pages for all the latest updates on the two clubs.

Lue, Kidd, JVG, Jackson Among Nets’ Coaching Candidates

Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson are among the names on the Nets‘ developing list of potential head coaching candidates, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to Stein, interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who replaced Kenny Atkinson last month, will also receive consideration for the permanent job.

As Stein explains (via Twitter), the Nets aren’t expected to complete their search and name a head coach until the 2019/20 season has been completed or canceled, so presumably this list of candidates is preliminary and figures to evolve in the coming weeks and months.

Still, the names are worth noting, as are the ones noticeably absent. For instance, Stein says that Tom Thibodeau is believed to be “solely a Knicks candidate” for the time being, despite some rumblings linking him to the Nets.

There has been speculation that Brooklyn will target a veteran coach who would be comfortable leading a veteran roster that aims to be a title contender in 2020/21. As such, it makes sense that all the candidates identified by Stein have previous head coaching experience, with Kidd having already served as the Nets’ head coach once, albeit not under the current ownership or management group.

Currently, Kidd works as a Lakers assistant under Frank Vogel, while Lue is on Doc RiversClippers staff. Van Gundy and Jackson are analysts for ESPN and ABC.

Lue, who was said earlier this week to have interest in Brooklyn’s coaching job, would reunite with Kyrie Irving if he were to land the job. Citing that Irving connection, Stein adds (via Twitter) that Warriors assistant Mike Brown – another former Cavaliers coach – is another name to monitor.

Nets Notes: Harris, Vaughn, Temple, Dinwiddie

An important decision awaits Joe Harris whenever the offseason finally arrives and the Nets‘ sharpshooter would like a long-term arrangement in Brooklyn, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harris is headed for free agency and figures to earn a sizable raise after making $7.6MM this season.

“In [an] ideal world, I’d play my whole career in Brooklyn,” Harris said this week in an interview with Ian Eagle of the YES Network. “I came in with [GM] Sean [Marks], even the ownership. It’s just one of those things where you have a close connection with a lot of people that are within the organization. You kind of all came in together. Now I’ve been here for four years and built unbelievable relationships with everybody that’s a part of the organization. It’s amazing just to see where we’ve gone from Year 1 to now. And I obviously want to be a part of that, and a part of it for a long time.”

Harris was just trying to earn a spot in the league when he signed with the Nets in 2016. He has developed into a starter the past two years and led the league in 3-point percentage last season.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The NBA’s hiatus is limiting interim coach Jacque Vaughn’s opportunity to prove he deserves the job on a permanent basis, observe Alex Schiffer and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Vaughn won both games after taking over for Kenny Atkinson, but was immediately presented with the challenge of trying to hold the team together while the league is shut down. “I think I’m very realistic about it,” Vaughn said about his chances of keeping the job beyond this season. “I’ve challenged the guys to make the most of 20 games and, hopefully, it’s more than that. What’s going to happen is going to happen. I’m going to give you all I’ve got. I’ll definitely do that.”
  • As a vice president of the Players Association, Garrett Temple has more than his own situation to worry about, Lewis writes in a separate story. “There is a clause in the [collective bargaining agreement] that stipulates what will happen if the season has to end because of a natural disaster,” Temple explained. “The teams make the most money on the postseasons, which is the reasons why players’ salaries may be cut 20 percent if we don’t play again.”
  • With the Bulls looking for someone to run their front office, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie jokingly tweeted his interest today, along with a plan to revamp the team.

The Latest On Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson‘s surprising departure as coach of the Nets on Saturday may have been instigated by his players, but it was a mutual decision, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Sources tell Lewis that Kyrie Irving bears much of the responsibility for the move, but Atkinson has understood for months that a change might be necessary.

“Kenny and I had these pretty frank conversations. And it wasn’t last night, 24 hours; there wasn’t one game,” general manager Sean Marks said. “This was a culmination of events over the course of the year. Kenny’s brutally honest, and the humility he showed to admit ‘My voice is not what it once was here. It’s time.’ This is a compromise that Kenny and I and ownership came up with; it was time. Kenny grinded and did everything he could, but it was time for another voice in that locker room, and it’s our job to find it.”

Marks and owner Joe Tsai gave Atkinson credit for helping to turn around a franchise that was among the league’s worst when he took over in 2016. He has the Nets on track for their second straight playoff appearance, but what the organization wants in a coach apparently shifted after last summer’s free agency bonanza that brought in Irving and Kevin Durant. Neither of them offered comment on Atkinson’s departure, but the players who did insist that they weren’t involved in the decision.

“I absolutely [had] no ‘Fire Kenny’ conversations with Sean, so I don’t know, not a part of that,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “It’s not like I called Joe on the phone and was like, ‘Hey you making any moves?’ I like to think we’re cool, but not that cool.”

Lewis adds that one of the first actions from interim coach Jacque Vaughn was to talk to Irving and other players about what changes they would like to see.

“It’s a service business. I’m serving these guys. I’m just a vessel,” Vaughn said. “It’s today’s game and being able to adjust to that, getting the most out of talent on your roster, but also listening and hearing the voices of the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 guys on your roster. It’s crucial, and having that relationship is a must in today’s game.”

There’s more fallout from this season’s most surprising coaching change:

  • Irving would like to see the Nets hire Tyronn Lue, his former head coach in Cleveland, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Currently an assistant with the Clippers, Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including two with Irving as his point guard. Irving didn’t like Atkinson’s “rigid” coaching methods and clashed with him almost immediately, sources tell Goodwill. Multiple sources also say Atkinson didn’t mesh with his two new stars and wasn’t looking forward to coaching them next season when both will presumably be healthy. “Oh, it was definitely mutual,” a league source said.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic talked to sources around the league and compiled a list of candidates to potentially become the Nets’ next head coach. Vaughn’s name is on the list along with some familiar candidates such as Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and former Nets star Jason Kidd. A few possibilities without head coaching experience are Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, Brian Keefe and Adam Harrington.
  • Atkinson may be the perfect choice to take over the cross-town Knicks, suggests Greg Joyce of The New York Post. New York is trying to rebuild with a collection of unproven young talent, much like Brooklyn was when Atkinson was hired there, and he is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which was run by new Knicks president Leon Rose“It seems like he’s very well respected within players, within the league — players he coached and players he didn’t coach,” said Knicks forward Julius Randle. “I know I respected him.”

Nets Part Ways With Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

The Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced today in a press release. Assistant coach Jacque Vaughn will take over as the club’s interim head coach.

“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time. Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons. The foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons.”

Atkinson, who took over as the Nets’ head coach in 2016, went just 20-62 in his first season with the club, but has played a key role since then in guiding the rebuild in Brooklyn and turning the team into a playoff contender. His best season came in 2018/19, when he led the Nets to a 42-40 record and the No. 6 seed in the East. He had an overall record of 118-190 (.383) in nearly four full seasons.

Although the Nets have fallen a little short of expectations this season, that can be attributed in large part to the injuries to stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant has missed the entire 2019/20 campaign while recovering from an Achilles tear, while shoulder issues limited Irving to just 20 games. Brooklyn is still in position to make the playoffs, albeit with a modest 28-34 record.

Given the circumstances surrounding the team’s performance this season, it’s surprising that the Nets would feel motivated to make a change. However, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN says (via Twitter) that Atkinson and Marks had multiple conversations and sensed that the relationship had run its course and that an eventual change was inevitable. The two sides decided not to wait on that change, despite the fact that they maintain a close relationship, Woj adds.

As Wojnarowski notes in a separate tweet, Atkinson has shown that he’s comfortable and effective leading a rebuilding team, so he should be in high demand going forward as other lottery-bound clubs around the NBA seek new coaches of their own. One of those teams is also in New York, though it remains to be seen if Atkinson will emerge as a target for the Knicks this spring.

As for the Nets, while Vaughn is taking the head coaching reins in the interim, the team will presumably conduct a more expansive coaching search at season’s end. With Durant and Irving expected to be ready to go in the fall, Brooklyn figures to target a coach who can potentially lead a veteran squad to title contention, rather than one overseeing a rebuild.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Notes: Atkinson, Assistants, Free Agency

Kenny Atkinson’s obsessive focus on individual player development led to his contract extension, Michael Scotto of The Athletic reports. ESPN reported on Monday that the Nets head coach would receive an extension, which Scotto confirms. Brooklyn is in playoff contention after winning 20 and 28 games the last two seasons.

“He has done arguably as good of a job as any coach in the league when you look at his improvement each year,” swingman Joe Harris said. “Obviously, I’m again biased just because I’m around him day in and day out and I see his approach and his competitiveness, his toughness, what he’s preached to us has trickled down to each one of the guys. He embodies what we are as an organization. We’re obviously not getting to this point without a leader like that.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Members of Atkinson’s staff received two-year extensions, Scotto tweets. Atkinson’s staff include Bret Brielmaier, Chris Fleming, Jordan Ott, Pablo Prigioni, Jacque Vaughn, Adam Harrington and Travon Bryant.
  • The Nets will be an attractive free agent destination even if their playoff bid comes up short, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kyrie Irving will give them consideration, a source told Lewis. There’s also a general feeling that free agents respect what Brooklyn has built and the culture around the franchise. “We’ve competed and won enough games this year that they know that all we need is another All-Star, another dynamic player to take the franchise over the top,” forward Ed Davis told Lewis. “I think that’s what those top-tier free agents that’s what goes through their minds. That’s how they think.”
  • Allen Crabbe underwent knee surgery on Thursday, likely ending his disappointing season.