The Brooklyn Nets have made their final decision on the fate of head coach Jacque Vaughn.
“Brooklyn Nets coach Jacque Vaughn has agreed on a multi-year contract extension, tweeted ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski adding in a subsequent tweet that Vaughn “had shed the interim label earlier this season with a team option on next year — and now gets extended for multiple years past the 2023-2024 season.”
Wojnarowski later clarified that the deal is expected to run through the 2026-27 season.
“Jacque has made an immediate and immeasurable impact on our entire organization since assuming the role of head coach earlier this season,” said general manager Sean Marks via the team’s website. “On the court, he’s clearly demonstrated his leadership through his ability to connect and communicate at a very high level while displaying tremendous instincts for the game. As a person, they don’t come any better than Jacque. His character is impeccable, and there is not a better representative for our team and our borough. We are thrilled to have Jacque lead the Nets for years to come.”
This season has not gone as expected by any measure. The roster blowup that took place at the trade deadline seemed imminent in the preseason only to give way to a tremendous rally that saw the Nets flirt with top-seeding in the Eastern Conference.
They went 25-8 before Kevin Durant’s injury seemingly set about the inevitable.
Now, they still figure to be a playoff team, albeit one with an expectedly lower ceiling. But Vaughn has not approached his newfound situation that way.
“I’m extremely excited about this group,” said Vaughn via the team’s official YouTube channel after beating the Miami Heat 116-105 before departing for the All-Star break. “That part of the old era is gone we got a new era and we have some guys in the locker room who can really play the game of basketball – who really want to learn about the game, who want to be pushed and coached.”
That group, headlined by 26-year-old swingman Mikal Bridges, is still in flux.
The Nets declined trade offers for Bridges as well as veteran forward Dorian Finney-Smith and could re-visit those talks in the offseason. They could also look to move Spencer Dinwiddie over the summer.
But the elephant in the room is Cameron Johnson who could be the rare player to see outside interest in restricted free agency and could land a deal worth roughly $20 million per season.
New-Look Nets Have the Best Defense
Bridges and Johnson, 27, are both young enough to be connectors to the next title-contending Nets team if not building blocks toward it be it as players or trade chips. The fates of Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith would seem to be more certain given the Nets’ current situation but they have the bones of a strong defensive unit when factoring in breakout big man Nic Claxton.
They have a plus-19.6 net efficiency differential, per Cleaning The Glass, ranking in the 100th percentile despite their offense ranking in the sixth percentile.
“If we keep getting better, learning and growing together, I feel like we’ll be a scary team that teams don’t want to play against,” Bridges told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype after the win over Miami. “We’re going to have five guys at all that’s going to be out there defending and playing for one another.”
Bridges isn’t the only one high on this group’s potential.
“I feel an energy from this group,” Johnson said via the team’s YouTube channel after the 124-106 loss to the New York Knicks on February 13. “I still feel like we’ve got the players necessary to win games and we’ll take it from there.”
Cameron Johnson’s Impact on Nets Prediction
The Nets are one of five teams figured to look vastly different next season, even more so than they already do from the start of this one.
How will their having to pony up for Johnson impact that?
At the very least he figures to help bring more assets in a sign-and-trade. But the decision is not cut and dry and the Nets will only have 24 more games to sort through a lot of roster decisions making their move to lock in Vaughn that much more significant.