The Brooklyn Nets have very specific needs for their next head coach and Ty Lue fits all the necessary criteria.
The Brooklyn Nets spent years building the culture that helped lure in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. However, after the two stars arrived, they didn’t mesh with head coach Kenny Atkinson, a key figure in the culture overhaul in Brooklyn.
The Nets chose Irving and Durant over Atkinson, and for good reason. Players win championships. Not coaches, not executives, not “culture.”
When healthy, Irving and Durant are two of the best basketball players on the planet. Brooklyn is a legitimate championship contender for the first time since the early 2000s when Jason Kidd was racking up triple-doubles in Continental Airlines Arena (more on him later).
These two stars are central to Brooklyn’s championship hopes and the coaching search should focus on someone who can work well with Durant and Irving. Ty Lue is reportedly interested in the Nets gig and would jump at the opportunity to coach Irving once again. The pairing won a championship together with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Lue, 42, is currently a top assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers, working closely with head coach Doc Rivers.
Although Irving’s tenure in Cleveland ended unceremoniously, there’s no doubt that those Cavs teams accomplished a lot under Lue. Sure, it’s easy to win games when you have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, but the proof is in the pudding. Lue has shown that he knows how to coach superstars.
That should really be priority No. 1 for Brooklyn.
The lack of enticing options is one of the biggest reasons why Lue is such an attractive candidate. Jacque Vaughn is undefeated in two games as interim head coach, but it doesn’t seem likely that the Nets would commit to him long-term.
The aforementioned Kidd will always be a trendy name when there is a head coaching gig available with the Nets. He’s the best point guard in franchise history and one of the guys who would be a lock to make the Mount Rushmore of all-time Nets. The Hall of Fame point guard is currently a top assistant for Frank Vogel and the Los Angeles Lakers.
But we’ve been there, done that. Kidd jumped into head coaching immediately after retirement and had some success with Brooklyn, guiding the veteran-led team to the second round of the playoffs.
After a dispute with the front office, Kidd left to spend four years leading the Milwaukee Bucks to mediocrity. It was only after Kidd was fired that Giannis Antetokounmpo transformed into the MVP player he is today. Although by all accounts Antetokounmpo enjoyed playing for Kidd and had a good relationship with his coach, the Bucks only became the best team in the Eastern Conference after Mike Budenholzer took over.
Mark Jackson is another name who should scare Nets fans. Much like Antetokounmpo and Kidd, Stephen Curry put together an MVP season immediately after the Golden State Warriors replaced Jackson with Steve Kerr. The Warriors went from being a playoff team under Jackson to one of the greatest teams of all-time under Kerr.
Jackson has enough baggage that even the New York Knicks won’t hire him. Again, no thanks, from Brooklyn.
Among those three, Lue is the obvious choice. Of course, a few surprise candidates may emerge in the coming months, but it’s hard to see anyone beating out Lue. His prior relationship with Irving and championship pedigree make him the best guy on the market.
Considering his success as a head coach, he’ll want a hefty contract. If the Nets were willing to dole out massive contracts in free agency, one more for a coach who can put it all together would seem like a smart investment.
And also, Gregg Popovich isn’t coming.