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Nets name Jacque Vaughn new head coach, do not go with Udoka

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson react to the Nets deciding to remove the interim tag from Jacque Vaughn and naming him the full-time head coach, with Helin describing it as a "stabilizing move" amid all the swirling chaos.

The Brooklyn Nets wisely decided not to rush headlong into another public relations disaster.

The Nets have named Jacque Vaughn — the Steve Nash assistant who took over when Nash and the team parted ways — their new head coach. The deal reportedly runs through this season and next (to the summer of 2024) and provides a stabilizing influence.

“Jacque’s basketball acumen, competitiveness and intimate knowledge of our team and organization make him the clear-cut best person to lead our group moving forward,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “He has a proven ability to get the best out of our players, hold them accountable and play a cohesive, team-first style of basketball.”

This means the Nets did not hire Ime Udoka, the suspended Boston Celtics coach who was reported to be the frontrunner and the guy Kevin Durant wanted. The Celtics suspended Udoka for the season due to his actions surrounding an improper affair with a team staff member. Whatever happened with the affair (the details are not public), it was serious enough for the Celtics to push aside the coach who took them to the NBA Finals last season.

Hiring Udoka while he is on suspension — Boston was willing to let him go without compensation — would have led to a public relations backlash for the Nets, who are still reeling from the Kyrie Irving debacle. The hiring would have been a desperate, tone-deaf move, no matter how good a coach Udoka is, and “strong voices” in the league were urging the Nets not to hire Udoka.

The Nets didn’t hire Udoka after doing their due diligence and sensing the coming backlash if they did, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

The Nets are 2-2 with Vaughn as coach, who also was an interim coach for the Nets in the bubble (just before Nash was hired). Vaughn was a 12-year NBA player who won a ring with the 2007 Spurs. He had previously been a head coach in Orlando and has been an assistant in Brooklyn since 2016, under multiple head coaches.