It’s been just about three months since the Nets promoted Jacque Vaughn to head coach after the dismissal of Steve Nash. While having to oversee the normal circus that involves Kyrie Irving along the way, Vaughn has put Brooklyn back on a championship path. He’s also not afraid to call out players and have some fun during his media sessions.
Almost two weeks ago, Vaughn used his time in the media room to indirectly send a message to Ben Simmons. In essence, he told the man — who apparently has no trade value right now — to toughen up after giving reporters an eye roll when discussing his latest ailment.
Prior to Broolyn’s 124-116 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Barclays Center Monday night, Vaughn spoke to the media. The trade sending Irving to the Dallas Mavericks was all but official at that point, but a reporter asked the coach about Irving’s sore calf.
Now, remember, after Kyrie’s trade request was made public on Friday, he sat out Saturday’s 125-123 win over the Washington Wizards with a “sore right calf”. Of course, this is also known as not wanting to play anymore until a trade was made. Here’s how Vaughn answered:
How's Kyrie Irving's calf soreness, according to Jacque Vaughn?
"Still sore" 🤔🤣 pic.twitter.com/IQkDYi4vbH
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 6, 2023
You have to love a man who finds fun and joy in the little things. Even if Irving was still officially on Brooklyn’s roster, he was no longer Vaughn’s responsibility. Instead of going the boring route and saying “no comment”, he went for humor. Everyone can appreciate that.
But at the same time, it’s pretty clear he’s a player’s coach. In that same media session, he tried focusing on the positives from Irving’s tenure with the organization:
"I enjoyed coaching him. We've had some ups and downs along the way. I've also seen the man score 60 points, bring his kids into the locker room, grow as an individual and be a better teammate than when I first met him"
– Jacque Vaughn on Kyrie Irving's tenure in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/gOFx6whxMf
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 7, 2023
Brooklyn needs to lock this man up as its head coach beyond this year. You know Magic Johnson is in favor of that.
The NBA trade deadline is coming up on Thursday, February 9th. Will Kevin Durant still be on the team once the deadline passes, or will he also want out after what just went down with Kyrie? That remains to be seen. However, the Nets will do what’s possible to load up for the stretch run. After all, they’ll try to advance further than the first round in the playoffs this spring.
A five-game homestand for Brooklyn continues Tuesday night, as they host the Phoenix Suns. With a 32-21 record entering this matchup, the Nets currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference. They’re 5.5 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics, who just torched them by more than 40 points on February 1st.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.