After the Nets’ surprise fire of Kenny Atkinson, they replaced him with interim head coach Jacque Vaughn. As head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Atkinson held a record of 118-190 over 3 plus seasons. He was inexperienced when it came to the head coaching position, and this was shown in his first two seasons. Both years they struggled to reach 30 wins with Atkinson as coach. In his third season, the Nets finally broke .500 and made the playoffs as the 6 seed. His fourth season was plagued with injuries and the expectations were already set low, since they were aware of their star free agent, Kevin Durant’s, Achilles injury. After this fire, it seems evident that the Brooklyn Nets ownership would like a more experienced head coach to coach this team with lofty expectations that come with Kyrie and Durant heading into the 2020-21 season. In this article, we will examine a few of the top options that the Nets have at this coaching position heading into the most important years in the history of this franchise.
Tyronn Lue was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2016-2018. During this time, he coached current Nets’ star PG Kyrie Irving. This relationship could play a major role in the Nets’ decision for the vacancy at head coach. There have been several reports that have come out that state how Kyrie is ultimately pushing for his former coach to become his current coach over in Brooklyn. Moreover, if the Nets are looking for a coach with a winning track record, Blue is the main target. The one problem with Lue is, although he has proved to win at the head coaching position in the NBA, he has yet to do it without King James. He is a obscured 1-18 without Lebron. The Nets will greatly consider Lue at this position because of his relationship with their star point guard, but if I were the Nets I would look to give the keys to somebody with a more proven track record at head coach.
Mike D’Antoni is the current head coach of the Houston Rockets who are 6th in the West. There have been several reports that D’Antoni might not be coaching the Rockets come next season. If this were the case, I am sure he would be atop of the Nets list. D’Antoni has plenty of experience when it comes to coaching superstars. He has coached the Nuggets, Suns, Knicks, Lakers, and Rockets. His overall record is an impressive 668-523. To add to this, D’Antoni has the perfect temperament and experience to handle the mercurial personalities of both Durant and Irving. As made evident above, the 69 year old head coach should be the Nets top option if he were to be released of his duties from the Houston Rockets.
Mark Jackson is most known for coaching the Warriors right before they became the dynasty they are now under Steve Kerr. Some give him major credit when it comes to the three NBA championships the Warriors won as he ultimately changed the culture of that franchise. Mark Jackson grew up near Brooklyn and played his high school ball at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. He hasn’t coached an NBA team since 2014, but has been working as an NBA analyst on ESPN. This long break from coaching could scare some teams away but I think his track record gives him a good shot at this job. Mark Jackson is a great leader which is exactly what the Nets need to balance out the star-power on the team. One can see his major turnover of this Warriors team through the record comparison between his first and third season as head coach. In his first season he won 23 games and in his third season he won 51. As one can see, this is a major improvement. He is a proven winner and this is exactly what the Nets should be looking for. In conclusion, Mark Jackson should be atop of Brooklyn’s list.
Jacque Vaughn was the Nets assistant head coach from 2016-2020. After the Atkinson fire, he was appointed to head coach. He went 2-0 as head coach before this entire hiatus began. However, before this he was the Orlando Magic coach from 2012-2015. In this span he went 58-158. If they were to go the route where they hire somebody from within the building, this should undoubtedly be their first choice. However, I do not believe they will do this. He might’ve looked promising this past season but his track record as head coach is atrocious. Staying in the building when it comes to head coaching hirings have been proved to be successful in the past but this one seems a bit too risky with the extremely high expectations following the offseason signings of Durant and Kyrie.
The former Nets star PG is one of the top options for the Nets job. He coached the team for one season straight out of retirement before going to Milwaukee where they had a spot waiting for him. With the Nets he had a 44-38 record. The reason for Jason Kidd’s move to Milwaukee was because Kidd wanted more say in the decision making but the front office said no. The Nets now have new ownership which should be willing to give Kid a second chance in Brooklyn. Jason Kidd would be a great mentor for Kyrie as Kyrie looked up to him when he dominated the PG position back in the 2000’s. He also has experience coaching one of the biggest stars in the NBA, Giannas Antetokounmpo, which could help him with learning to coach a star like Durant. If Brooklyn is willing to swallow a hard pill and let Kidd back in the building at head coach, I think this would be a great hire.
Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy last coached Team USA and led them to a FIBA World Cup Berth. However, Van Gundy hasn’t coached an NBA team since 2007. A coach who hasn’t coached in thirteen years should not be what the Nets are looking for. It took a big risk. When he was a head coach, his record was 430-318. The main reason the Nets will consider him is because of his winning pedigree, knowledge of the game, and large amount of experience at head coach. Van Gundy also has a decent playoff record with 44-44 which could come in handy as the Nets are expected to make it far, if not all the way, next season. If I were the Nets, this would not be one of my top options, but I could definitely see why they would consider it.
All the coaches listed are all great candidates for the job and should all be considered greatly by the Nets in the coming off season. These next few years might be the biggest years in the franchise’s history. This makes the decision that much harder for the front office. If they make the wrong decision, they are basically wasting valuable years with Durant and Kyrie in a Nets uniform. The Nets front office has made some great moves these past few seasons, and I expect nothing less when it comes to this decision at head coach.