The Brooklyn Nets' roller-coaster ride of a season took another unexpected turn on Wednesday afternoon when they announced that interim head coach Jacque Vaughn would be hired officially as their next head coach. Vaughn had been filling in after the team fired Steve Nash in the interim but has had that tag removed and will resume his head coaching duties for Brooklyn throughout the rest of the season.
The Brooklyn Nets opted not to hire Ime Udoka as their next head coach
Vaughn's hire came as a bit of a shock, as it seemed like suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was set to be the Nets' next head coach. Udoka has only been suspended by the Celtics, meaning that any team could hire him with permission from the Celtics, and he could coach for them this season. The Celtics were willing to let Udoka go to the Nets, and it seemed set in stone that he would be Brooklyn's newest head coach.
But in the end, Vaughn ended up getting the job. So what gives; why was Udoka, who was all but officially announced as the Nets head coach, not actually selected to be Brooklyn's next head coach? Shams Charania of The Athletic outlined the Nets' process that saw them become less and less confident in Udoka as their next hire as time progressed, ultimately leading to them rolling with Vaughn instead.
"The Nets changed course from their initial plan to hire Udoka due to several factors, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making told The Athletic. These factors include an investigation and due diligence process by the Nets into the suspended coach taking longer than initially expected, the outcry after word of their plan became known to people outside and inside the organization and the short- and long-term question marks around the team's ability to contend in the Eastern Conference as a result of the indefinite suspension of Irving." - Shams Charania, The Athletic
The Brooklyn Nets likely made the right decision hiring Jacque Vaughn over Ime Udoka
Nobody will argue against saying that Udoka could have been a shrewd hire for the Nets, as he led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season as their head coach and has previously worked as an assistant with the Nets. But Udoka's suspension with the Celtics, in which he had a consensual affair with a female Celtics employee, has been quite a strange incident in which not much information has been revealed, and the Nets already have enough commotion on their team as is.
There's a chance that Udoka could have been the guy who helped the Nets figure everything out, but there was an even better chance that his situation, and the Nets as a whole, would fall apart in front of their faces if he was hired. Vaughn was the safe choice, but sometimes the safe option is the better option.
After Nash's firing, the Nets have seen more buy-in into Vaughn's system, which offers encouragement that he can help turn things around for Brooklyn this season. Udoka initially seemed all but certain to be the Nets' next head coach, but the team quickly opted against it, adding another twist to Udoka's strange 2022-23 season.