Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nets general manager Sean Marks said there wasn’t a single event or game that made the team decide to fire head coach Jacque Vaughn. While some Brooklyn players expressed frustration following a December 27 loss in which the team sat several regulars, as well as after last Wednesday’s 50-point blowout loss in Boston, Marks pointed to a general lack of energy and effort when asked for specifics on what went into the decision to dismiss Vaughn.
“It’s about the level of compete,” Marks said. “We’re not going to be the most talented team in the league. I’m not an idiot. I totally understand that. But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.
“These are things that should be expected when you’re in a place that we’re at right now, where we’re clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That’s what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that’s probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven’t seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there.”
New interim head coach Kevin Ollie made that lack of energy and hustle a focus in his first practice with the club on Tuesday, as Bontemps details. Ollie pointed out that the Nets don’t recover enough loose balls or draw enough charges, referring to the team’s poor numbers in those categories as “losing basketball.”
“I got something called EGBs, which is energy generating behaviors, and it’s 17 behaviors of those things. And we went through the list extensively today,” Ollie said on Tuesday. “(They) have nothing to do with talent but everything to do with heart and will. And I think that’s what it comes down to.
“Remember, I played 15 years professionally, 13 years in this league, and never once (had) a coach call a play for me. I had to get it with grit. I had to get it with determination. I had to get it with a mindset that we’re going to get better each and every day. That’s how I coach, that’s what I’m going to demand. I want them to demand that from me, and that’s from day one.”
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Marks is under contract beyond this season, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv, and the veteran Nets executive has a close relationship with team owner Joe Tsai. Marks told reporters on Tuesday that he has been given no indication Tsai won’t keep him around to run the team’s latest head coaching search this spring. “Joe and I have always been in complete partnership,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “And it doesn’t mean we always agree. I mean, you have to have good discussions and robust discussions, but Joe and I will make this decision, and he has given me no reason to believe that I won’t be able to make that decision.”
- Still, Marks’ future with the Nets has been a subject of speculation around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the HoopsHype podcast with Brian Lewis of The New York Post. According to Scotto, in the event that Marks remains in Brooklyn, one possibility floated in league circles is a scenario in which the Nets promote assistant general manager Jeff Peterson to GM and give him more day-to-day responsibilities while Marks stays above him in the front office hierarchy.
- Scotto and Lewis discussed many more Nets-related topics in the HoopsHype podcast, including the futures of players like Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, Scotto also said there were rumblings that certain players – including Mikal Bridges and former Net Spencer Dinwiddie – weren’t thrilled by the fact that Vaughn’s offensive game plan focused so heavily on Simmons, who hasn’t been healthy for most of his time in Brooklyn.
- Bridges said on Tuesday that he wants to remain in Brooklyn long-term, per Dan Martin of The New York Post. “I’m here now and want to stay here,” Bridges said. “And I’m going to keep grinding and getting to wherever we’ve got to get to win, and that’s why I’m here for.” The Nets turned away trade inquiries this season on Bridges and their goal is to ultimately acquire a star or two to play alongside him, per Scotto.
- In a pair of stories for The New York Post, Mike Vaccaro wonders what it will take for the Nets to move on from Marks, while Zach Braziller identifies several potential candidates for Brooklyn’s permanent head coaching job. That list begins with Mike Budenholzer, whose name is “at the tip of everyone’s tongue” in discussing possible candidates, according to Scotto.