5 candidates to replace Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson next season

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5. Jacque Vaughn

The interim coach should never be overlooked, though Vaughn’s previous tenure as an NBA head coach didn’t exactly inspire confidence that he’s the right man for this job. The Nets need someone who’s battle-tested and has experience coaching in the playoffs, and Vaughn’s .269 winning percentage during his two-and-a-half seasons with the Orlando Magic is hardly encouraging.

With that being said, Orlando’s roster was horribly managed during that time, so even though Vaughn wasn’t the answer for that particular puzzle, perhaps he’ll be able to prove something in these next few months with more sensical Nets personnel. Not having Kyrie Irving on the court doesn’t help Brooklyn’s playoff prospects, and that says nothing of not being able to coach both him and KD to prove his mettle, but if he can help spark a turnaround with core pieces like Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen buying in, he shouldn’t be ruled out.

Vaughn has been an assistant with the Nets since 2016, so he’s intimately familiar with Atkinson’s system and most of the players at his disposal. He’s a long-shot candidate, but this offshoot from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree will get the first chance to take a stab at this vacancy over the next 2-3 months.