Nets Notes: What led to HC Jacque Vaughn’s firing, GM Sean Marks’ future

A few notes on the Nets and former head coach Jacque Vaughn:


Mikal Bridges didn’t mention Vaughn by name last week. But he didn’t have to.

Bridges’ frustration with Vaughn and the Nets’ offense was clear to anyone who listened to him speak after the Nets’ 50-point loss in Boston.

Bridges questioned the game plan on a night when the Nets didn’t have Ben Simmons. He talked about the team not knowing what to do on offense.

And then Bridges, the face of the Nets, made it clear that things needed to change quickly for his team.

“You can’t just let this one (loss) go, just let it drop. Maybe if you lost (a close game) towards the end, but you got beat by 50,” Bridges said. “A lot of s–t is not right and you’ve got to fix it.”

The Nets decided on Monday that Vaughn wasn’t the right man to fix things in Brooklyn.

In what he described as “an incredibly difficult decision”, GM Sean Marks announced that the Nets had relieved Vaughn of his duties. For now, Kevin Ollie will take over as an interim head coach. Vaughn is the third coach fired during Marks’ eight-year tenure running the club.

If it doesn’t work out with Ollie, it’s very fair to wonder if Marks gets the chance to hire a fourth head coach.


In the weeks leading up to Monday’s decision, several Nets players had privately questioned Vaughn’s in-game decisions. Several had also expressed a lack of confidence in the head coach, SNY sources say.

This is often what happens when an NBA team underperforms.

But the situation with Vaughn was layered. Some with the Nets had concerns about Vaughn hindering the club’s pursuit of a top player. The Nets have the trade assets to make a competitive offer for a disgruntled star. They also can create enough cap room to pursue a top free agent as early as the 2025 offseason.

Bridges’ frustration with the coaching staff was apparent last week after the Boston game. But there were other efforts to get Vaughn to adjust his offensive approach. Spencer Dinwiddie spoke to Vaughn – in a completely non-confrontational way – about the importance of defining roles and a hierarchy on offense, per SNY sources.

The Athletic reported that Bridges also sought to change the offense. (An aside on Dinwiddie: the notion that he’d quit on the team wasn’t shared by teammates, as far as we know. Dinwiddie, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after being traded by Brooklyn and subsequently waived, was well-regarded by his teammates.)


Some media members referred to this season as the beginning of a rebuild for Brooklyn. But the organization-wide frustration with losing told a different story. This was never a traditional rebuild. The 2023-24 Nets – the first team in the post Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving era – needed to be competitive.

Nets governor Joe Tsai spent a significant amount of money for two playoff series wins and plenty of headaches during the superstar era. It’s hard to see how he would sign off on a full-blown rebuild.

Sure, the Irving and Durant trades gave everyone with the Nets – from Marks on down – a fresh start. But they weren’t a license to lose games.

So when the Nets went 21-33 before the All Star break (8-23 in their last 31 games), some opposing coaches and executives speculated about Vaughn and Marks’ job security.

Conventional wisdom among those keeping an eye on Brooklyn was that Vaughn would at least finish out the season.

If Marks fired Vaughn during the season, it would be an admission that he whiffed again on a head coach.

What specifically led to Monday’s decision isn’t clear. But Bridges’ public frustration with offensive schemes couldn’t have helped.


Marks’ plan to bring more talent around Bridges is probably unchanged. The Nets have turned down several significant trade offers for Bridges. More than one team has offered the Nets a package that included at least four first-round picks for Bridges.

Those picks would have presumably given Marks a chance to build from scratch again. His record with head coaches is spotty at best, but his resume as a draft day decision-maker is remarkable. By not trading Bridges for a bevy of picks, Marks is obviously committed to building on the fly around Bridges, who seems miscast this season as a No. 1 offensive option.

If the Nets can turn things around under Ollie, it would presumably be a win for Marks.

But if the Nets struggle under Ollie, it’s logical to assume that Marks’ front office will be under more scrutiny this offseason.

Marks is under contract beyond this season, per SNY sources. He and Tsai have a close relationship. They were notably in lockstep on the high-stakes Irving extension negotiations. But if Marks gets to hire another full-time head coach that isn’t Ollie, you should start calling him “Teflon Sean.” It’s hard to find many executives in pro sports who have hired four different head coaches.