With the Brooklyn Nets’ season officially over after being swept by the Toronto Raptors, their head-coaching search is officially underway.
After filling in admirably after the firing of Kenny Atkinson, Jacque Vaughn helped steer the Nets through the pandemic, into the Orlando bubble, and into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the East.
That’s good enough to receive serious consideration for general manager Sean Marks to drop the interim tag from Vaughn’s title, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
But the much-anticipated joining of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at Barclays Center could prompt the Nets to look for much larger fish in the sea — one that has been linked with the organization in recent weeks.
San Antonio Spurs’ legendary head coach, Gregg Popovich, will be pursued by the Nets this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, though he was quick to add that him coming to Brooklyn is “a pipe dream for now.”
Last week, amNewYork Metro speculated that a boatload of money — which the Nets have with owner Joe Tsai — and the promise of establishing a pro basketball culture in Brooklyn while coaching Durant and Irving could nab Popovich’s attention.
Durant is also incredibly high on Popovich to the point where he tried to get his Oklahoma City Thunder to hire the five-time NBA champion back in 2015.
The 31-year-old 10-time All-Star and former MVP has plenty of pull, which is likely a driving force behind the Nets’ reported interest in Popovich. Durant has yet to play a game for the Nets after recovering from a ruptured Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors.
His arrival — along with Irving — makes the Nets immediate and serious contenders in the Eastern Conference while the all-important developing supporting cast will be the difference between the organization hoping and expecting to compete for a championship.
So keeping Durant happy will be a top priority for a Brooklyn franchise that is looking to not just take over the New York basketball landscape, but put the Nets organization on the NBA map as serious contenders. If it just so happens to yield one of the greatest coaches in league history, that’s an enormous added bonus.