ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith believes that the Brooklyn Nets should have hired Boston Celtics suspended coach Ime Udoka over Jacque Vaughn.
Brooklyn announced the hiring of Vaughn on Wednesday, and while Smith did say he was happy for the coach, he believes that Udoka is too good of a coach to pass up.
"I'm very happy for [Jacque Vaughn]. But I still think it was a mistake… If I were the Brooklyn Nets, I would have hired Ime Udoka."
— Stephen A. Smith#NBATwitter #NetsWorld pic.twitter.com/qrYnp0nusV
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) November 9, 2022
The Nets opted against hiring Udoka, potentially because of the controversy surrounding him as well as the Nets at the moment.
Brooklyn is currently dealing with the suspension of guard Kyrie Irving, who initially refused to apologize for sharing a documentary on his social media that displayed anti-Semitic beliefs.
With that drama already surrounding the organization, bringing in Udoka would have potentially made things worse from a public relations perspective.
Udoka was suspended by the Celtics for the entire 2022-23 NBA season for multiple violations of team policies. Udoka had multiple violations of sexual misconduct directed at woman in the organization.
That led to Joe Mazzulla taking over as Boston’s head coach for the 2022-23 season.
Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals last season, but they came up short, losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games. However, the first-year head coach helped the team make a major leap last season.
The Celtics were the No. 7 seed in the East during the 2020-21 campaign, but Udoka’s defensive style led them all the way to the No. 2 seed in the East last season. Boston knocked off the Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat on its way to the NBA Finals.
The Nets clearly believe that hiring Udoka wasn’t the right move at this time, and they are hoping that Vaughn will be able to lead the team back into the top of the Eastern Conference standings after a rough start.
Vaughn has coached with the Nets and Orlando Magic as a head coach, compiling a career record of 67-163. However, he’s 9-5 in two stints as the head coach in Brooklyn.
With Kevin Durant leading the way, the Nets have the talent to be a playoff team in the East this season. While Vaughn could lead the Nets to the playoffs, Smith clearly believes Udoka would’ve given the Nets a better shot.