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Why the Brooklyn Nets didn’t sign suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka?

The Brooklyn Nets have named Jacque Vaughn their head coach a week and a half after placing the interim coach tag on him following the firing of Steve Nash.

The Brooklyn Nets have named Jacque Vaughn their head coach a week and a half after placing the interim coach tag on him following the firing of Steve Nash.
Brad PennerUSA TODAY Sports

Jacque Vaughn has been named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets after getting promoted from interim coach on Wednesday afternoon. The announcement ends rumors of the Nets intentions of bringing former Boston Ime Udoka.

As soon as Nash was let go, speculation immediately turned to suspended Boston coach Ime Udoka. After leading the Celtics to the NBA Finals for the first time since the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce days, Udoka was suspended shortly before the season started for having an “improper workplace relationship” with a female subordinate in the organization.

The Celtics handed Udoka a one-year suspension and citing their coach violated team policies. Joe Mazzula was promoted from assistant coach to Boston’s interim coach on September 22nd.

Brooklyn’s slow start

The decision to name Jacque Vaughn head coach could be chalked up to the recent run of form that the Nets have been in over the last week. Brooklyn have gone 3-2 since the beginning of the month and it seems like the team has been stabilized since Nash’s departure.

A week and a half is not nearly enough time to evaluate a coach’s progress and effect on a team. The quick decision to pull the interim label from their former assistant coach may have more to do with the recent troubles of Udoka than the credentials Vaughn has shown since the beginning of the month.

Nets already pitted in problems

Brooklyn are already surrounded by controversy following the recent Kyrie Irving social media posts, and comments with antisemitic messages behind them.

The Nets originally suspended their star guard for a minimum of five games after neglecting to tell reporters that he is in fact not antisemitic. On top of the suspension, the franchise demanded Irving go through a six step process that has to completed before his return.

These steps include apologizing and condemning the film which he promoted on his social media accounts, make a half million dollar donation to anti-hate causes, complete sensitivity training, complete anti-semitic training, meet with ADL and Jewish leaders and meet with Nets owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate he fully understands the severity of the situation.

Kyrie’s Covid conspiracies

It’s not the first time Kyrie Irving has caused off-the-court issues. He was not allowed to participate in practices or games for the first half of last season after refusing to get vaccinated. His comments connecting Covid to a conspiracy to plot black people to a master computer for a “plan of Satan” were considered outlandish, but didn’t harm anyone or community.

The decision to neglect the vaccine conflicted with New York State Covid policy that prohibited those who had not been vaccinated to work out in gyms or attend large public events, like a basketball game. The Nets decided to exile Irving until the turn of the New Year.

With the team struggling and already steeped in controversy in the early season, Joe Tsai and the front office may have wanted to avoid adding any fuel to an already burning fire. Jacque Vaughn may not have been their top choice for the permanent job, but he’s the safe choice. With the media frenzy following the Nets, the decision to bring in Udoka would have caused too much a distraction for a franchise that has had enough on their plate over the last few years.


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