Sources: Nets promoting Ollie to interim coach

NBA

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After firing coach Jacque Vaughn, the Brooklyn Nets are promoting assistant Kevin Ollie to interim head coach, sources told ESPN.

Ollie will run the Nets’ practice on Tuesday and start his head-coaching duties on Thursday against the Toronto Raptors, sources said. The Nets have 28 regular-season games left.

The Nets’ hopes are that Ollie can re-energize a roster that has dropped into the bottom 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency since mid-December. Ollie — who played 13 seasons in the NBA — won a national championship as UConn’s coach in 2014 and joined the Nets as an assistant coach this season.

In two-plus seasons as the Nets’ coach, Vaughn was 71-68 in the regular season and 0-8 in the playoffs. He replaced Steve Nash a season ago before going 43-32 and getting swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

“To Joe Tsai, Clara Wu-Tsai, Ollie Weisberg, Sam Zussman, Sean Marks and front office, Nets coaches, staff, players, BSE family and the entire Brooklyn borough: It was a pleasure being your Head Coach,” said Vaughn in a statement issued to ESPN following his dismissal. “I hope each individual I interacted with felt respected and valued. Just know I gave you everything I had every single day. Onto the next chapter. Amor Fati.”

Vaughn got his first chance to coach the Nets in March 2020 after Kenny Atkinson was fired just before the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He led the Nets to a 7-3 record and into the playoffs in the restart “bubble” at Walt Disney World, but the Nets then opted to give the head-coaching job to Nash, despite having no experience. Vaughn stayed on as an assistant.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward,” said Nets general manager Sean Marks in a statement. “Jacque has represented this organization with exemplary character and class for the past eight years. The consistent positivity and passion he poured into our team daily will remain with the players and staff he interacted with throughout his tenure. We thank Jacque for all he has done for the Nets and the borough of Brooklyn, and wish him, Laura and their family nothing but the best in the future.”

Vaughn is 129-226 as an NBA coach, having gone 58-158 in his first opportunity with Orlando.

The Nets are rebuilding the roster around forward Mikal Bridges. They hold significant salary cap space and draft capital to build around him this summer and beyond.

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