Jacque Vaughn will be the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets for the foreseeable future after the team extended him with a multi-year contract deal, the team announced Tuesday.
Vaughn has been the Nets' head coach since Nov. 1 when he took over for Steve Nash, who mutually agreed to part ways with the team. Despite a tumultuous season and multi-game absences of stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — and their eventual trades — Vaughn navigated the Nets to a 32-19 record since Nash's firing and a 34-24 overall record, which is currently good for fifth in the Eastern Conference.
“Jacque has made an immediate and immeasurable impact on our entire organization since assuming the role of head coach earlier this season,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “On the court, he’s clearly demonstrated his leadership through his ability to connect and communicate at a very high level while displaying tremendous instincts for the game. As a person, they don’t come any better than Jacque. His character is impeccable, and there is not a better representative for our team and our borough. We are thrilled to have Jacque lead the Nets for years to come.”
This is Vaughn's second time as a team's full-time head coach. He became the head coach of the Orlando Magic in 2012, but he missed the playoffs in each of his first two seasons at the helm before the organization fired Vaughn midway through the 2015 season. Vaughn finished with a 58-158 record in Orlando. He joined the Nets in 2016 as an assistant under Kenny Atkinson and briefly took over when the Nets at the end of the 2019-2020 season. Nash kept Vaughn on in 2020, and two seasons later Vaughn stepped back into the head coaching role.
The Nets' faith in Vaughn is a bit surprising given the team reportedly wanted to hire ex-Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka soon after Nash's departure. Udoka had previously been suspended for the entire season for sexual misconduct less than a year after he took the Celtics to the NBA Finals.
But Vaughn proved over the past 51 games his ability to lead a team that looked like it was spiraling aimlessly amid poor performances and off-the-court scandals.
The Nets were 2-5 to open the season before Nash left and even endured a five-game Irving absence when the team suspended him for posting an antisemitic video on social media. Despite the early season drama, the Nets went 12-1 in December — the winningest month in franchise history. Vaughn even won his first coach of the month honor.
Things didn't get much better for Brooklyn, though. The team lost Durant to a knee injury in January before Irving demanded a trade and was subsequently sent to the Dallas Mavericks. Soon after, Durant was dealt to the Phoenix Suns. Both deals landed the Nets some young players and a bounty of draft picks.
Coming out of All-Star weekend, this version of the Nets looks completely different from the one Vaughn inherited at the beginning of the year. But even still, Brookyn's brass believes Vaughn can continue to keep the franchise afloat.