The Nets made a surprising move Thursday morning by hiring Steve Nash as their head coach, and while some fans were excited by the announcement, others couldn't help but feel sorry for Jacque Vaughn.
Vaughn took over as the Nets' coach right before the league shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. He coached, and won, two games before the postponed season. He then led the Nets to a 5-3 record in the bubble despite not having DeAndre Jordan (opt-out), Spencer Dinwiddie (opt-out), Taurean Prince (opt-out), Wilson Chandler (opt-out), Kevin Durant (injury) or Kyrie Irving (injury). He went 0-4 in postseason play in a first-round series against the Raptors, but his bubble performance did enough to impress the front office.
He was considered for the head coaching job, but will instead remain lead assistant coach. He will be the highest-paid lead assistant coach in the league, according to ESPN.
"We are thrilled to retain Jacque as a leading member of our coaching staff," GM Sean Marks said in a statement. "Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization. His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable. Our players will benefit from the continuity of Jacque’s presence, and we are extremely fortunate to keep him in our Nets family."
ESPN's report adds that Vaughn "made a strong impression" on the front office and "would've been the Nets' choice had Nash been unconvinced of taking the job."
Meanwhile, Nash has no head coaching experience. He was a part-time player development consultant for the Warriors.
Nash's lack of experience combined with Vaughn's success led some NBA fans to question the move.
will say, Jacque Vaughn taking over, having what’s left of his team play well in the bubble, then push TOR a bit in R1, only to leave a “strong impression” and get passed over for someone with ... let’s say “limited” coaching experience has to leave a sour taste in his mouth.— Karens In Paris (@NekiasNBA) September 3, 2020
what just happened to Jacque Vaughn happens in corporate America jobs everyday. Lose your job to someone with less experience that’s less qualified but hey you can help train them and we’ll throw you a bone. It never fails when it comes to Black Coaches.— 73-9 and they LIED (@CuffsTheLegend) September 3, 2020
Jacque Vaughn, the Nets interim coach, is the third Black coach to lose his job after his team returned home from the N.B.A. bubble at Walt Disney World. https://t.co/earFECg94u— Shauntel Lowe (@shauntellowe) September 3, 2020
The blackest coaching pool in years:— Tyler R. Tynes (@TylerRickyTynes) September 3, 2020
Wes Unseld Jr
And Steve Nash got a job w/0 experience
Steve Nash might become a good coach but only white people are allowed to get hired to coach two stars when they’re novelties. I noticed that Jacque Vaughn, a guy who has been grinding for years, was passed over for this.— Big Jay (@jaysonbuford) September 3, 2020
I feel for Jacque Vaughn. He had that Nets team playing hard. Lost basically his entire roster in the bubble and still was competitive. Why not give him a shot?— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) September 3, 2020
Vaughn made a "strong impression" but not strong enough to get the job? Word. pic.twitter.com/Hr0gORBVLa— Michael Sykes, II (@MikeDSykes) September 3, 2020
Now this is that okey doke....vaughn is clearly more qualified and has worked his way up through the ranks https://t.co/CShBEBHxSE— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) September 3, 2020
Earlier this month, The Athletic also reported that Vaughn "impressed ownership" with the job he did in the bubble. The report noted that "opposing coaches around the NBA" have also "expressed being impressed" with Vaughn.