Nets’ Mikal Bridges Was ‘Pretty Vocal’ To Get Jacque Vaughn Fired

Mikal Bridges, Jacque Vaughn, Nets, NBA
Feb 28, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn watches as forward Mikal Bridges (1) brings the ball up court against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have started the unofficial second half of the 2023-24 NBA season with a bang. Hours after the All-Star game concluded, they decided to fire head coach Jacque Vaughn.

Vaughn has coached parts of three different seasons with the Nets, the first being in 2020 in place of Kenny Atkinson. This time, he took over for Steve Nash 10 games into the 2022-23 campaign.

Overall, he went 71-68 as head coach of the team but failed to win a single playoff game, going 0-8. His firing comes as a bit of a surprise, given the current state of the franchise in a rebuild post their Big 3 era.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jacque Vaughn, Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets Updates

But, the production on the court has slipped to the point where a change needed to be made. After starting the season 13-10 and being right in the mix for a playoff spot, Brooklyn is now 21-33 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

One of the main reasons that a change was made was because players no longer had belief in Vaughn to get the job done. There were people within the organization that landing players in the future would be negatively impacted by keeping Vaughn as well.

NBA insider Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium echoed those sentiments. During an appearance on Run It Back on FanDuel TV, he went even more in-depth naming Mikal Bridges as one of the players who was vocal in getting Vaughn fired.

“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,” Charania said. “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.”

That plan was doomed from the start as Ben Simmons has been unable to stay healthy and on the court. He has played in only 12 out of a possible 54 games. This is the third straight season he has missed at least 40 games in, as building an entire offensive game plan around him should have been a red flag from the start.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jacque Vaughn, Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets Updates

With Simmons, a main hub in their offense sidelined, Vaughn’s game plan fell apart. After some early season success, the lack of structure has come back to hurt the Nets, as Bridges is being overextended as the No. 1 option offensively without much help around him.

It will be interesting to see who the Nets target as a full-time replacement for Vaughn and who takes over on an interim basis. The Nets are projected to have a lot of cap space and assets to use during the 2024 NBA offseason to upgrade their roster and their decision on who becomes head coach will have a major impact on those decisions.

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