Jacque Vaughn has nearly 15 years of NBA coaching experience dating back to his time as an assistant with the Spurs in the early 2010s. He also coached the Orlando Magic for several years.
But experience hardly mattered during his recent tenure as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, where a team that had shed its top-line talent was somehow expected to compete in a lopsided NBA odds market against other top Eastern teams in Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.
Vaughn did an admirable job last season taking over for Steve Nash, who was dismissed just seven games into the 2022-23 season. The Nets were 2-5 when the front office ejected Nash; Brooklyn went 43-32 over the last 75 games under Vaughn.
But reality set in for the Nets this season. Brooklyn is a mostly untalented team stuck in the middle of the standings, which is just about the worst place you can be in today’s NBA.
Thus, the Nets have begun trading off pieces for draft capital. Vaughn’s Feb. 19 firing is best viewed in that light. Brooklyn was 21-33 at the time of his dismissal.
Vaughn is the third NBA head coach to be sacked this season, joining Milwaukee’s Adrian Griffin and Washington’s Wes Unseld Jr.
Here are a few other coaches that may be on the hot seat this year.
Is Monty Williams the right guy to develop Detroit’s talented-but-raw roster? It’s a fair question, as the 2023-24 Pistons currently have the worst record in the NBA, which they achieved thanks in part to a record-setting 28-game losing streak.
Williams has always been lauded as a thoughtful leader, but coaching a contending Suns team is a world away from his current situation. Perhaps this marriage was a bad fit from the start.
Unlike many of the other teams at the bottom of the standings, Chicago is not a team waiting on a young potential star to develop. The Bulls are under .500 despite being nearly $30 million over the cap.
The likely target to absorb that disappointment is head coach Billy Donovan, who’s now in his fourth season with the team.
The Bulls lost in the first round of the 2022 playoffs after a 46-win regular season. Last year, they finished 40-42 and missed the postseason.
Portland hired Chauncey Billups to be the Blazers’ head man back in 2021. Consider how much has changed between then and now – Damian Lillard is gone, and the team is a distant 14th place in the West.
This team is a total rebuild at this point. Last year’s No. 3 pick, Scoot Henderson, has not had a great rookie year. (It’s early, so let’s not overreact.)
Portland’s dreadful record clearly isn’t the fault of Billups. This Portland team is not constructed to be competitive this season. But before the season ends, the Trail Blazers’ front office will have to ask themselves if the first-time head coach is the right fit for the team as presently constructed.
If they feel he’s not – if they feel he was the right hire for a more competitive team, but it’s now time for a more developmentally-focused head coach – then Billups will be looking for a new job.
Available NBA Coaches
- Mike Budenholzer
- Terry Stotts
- Mark Jackson
- Kenny Atkinson
- Nate McMillan
- Becky Hammon
- Stan Van Gundy
- Jeff Van Gundy
- Mike D’Antoni
- Dwane Casey
- Stephen Silas
- Dave Joerger
- James Borrego
NBA Head Coaches
|Years of Prior Experience
|Kevin Ollie (Interim)
|Golden State Warriors
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Los Angeles Lakers
|New Orleans Pelicans
|New York Knicks
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|Portland Trail Blazers
|San Antonio Spurs
|Brian Keefe (Interim)
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