NBA rumors: Warriors-LeBron not dead, Nets Ben Simmons problem, G League Ignite in limbo

  • The future of G League Ignite is uncertain
  • Jacque Vaughn tried to build an offense around Ben Simmons
  • Don't rule out LeBron James to the Warriors just yet

LeBron James, Stephen Curry
LeBron James, Stephen Curry / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
2 of 3

NBA rumors: Ben Simmons at heart of Jacque Vaughn's failed Nets tenure

The Brooklyn Nets fired Jacque Vaughn on Monday, quickly promoting former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie to the interim role. Brooklyn is 21-33 at the All-Star break, 2.5 games outside the Eastern Conference play-in race. Vaughn was a common scapegoat in the media, but it's becoming increasingly clear that there were issues behind the scenes.

According to Shams Charania on FanDuel's Run It Back TV, Mikal Bridges was "pretty vocal" about Vaughn's offensive scheme.

"Multiple players—including Spencer Dinwiddie, who is now departed, and Mikal Bridges—were pretty vocal behind the scenes for months now about how the offense was running. They felt like a lot of what Vaughn was running was being run improperly, without structure. Vaughn came into the year and said, 'We're gonna run a free-for-all offense.' And the team, from what I gather, has been pretty bonded on the fact that developing a hierarchy was important. And when they went into training camp, a lot of their offense was built around Ben Simmons, and him playing at the 1, and him playing at a high level for them."

Another coach's career derailed by Ben Simmons.

Okay, maybe that's a stretch. But, it's clear Vaughn envisioned an up-tempo, free-flowing offense centered on Ben Simmons' ability to push the pace and generate shots for teammates. Simmons has only appeared in 12 games to date, with a minutes restriction for several. There have been brief flashes of what makes Simmons special — or made him special — but on the whole, it has been another disappointing season for the three-time All-Star. He is averaging 6.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.5 assists on 59.4 percent shooting in 25.7 minutes.

Vaughn's plan was not egregious. With all due respect to Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie, it's hard to demand a hierarchy in their shoes. Bridges has been cemented as the Nets' foundational piece, but he is plainly miscast as a No. 1 option. If Simmons was back up to speed, Brooklyn's best bet would be to let him spread the wealth.

Now under Kevin Ollie, the Nets will need to figure out this "hierarchy." Dennis Schroder has replaced Dinwiddie in the backcourt, but Simmons is thoeretically healthy. He's ramping up toward a full minutes load after the All-Star break. If he can get back to even 75 percent of his former self, the Nets' offense will start to look more coherent. Thing is, that's a massive if.