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Pelicans Rumors: Jacque Vaughn 'Gaining Traction' for HC Job in New Orleans

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2021

Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn reacts to a play during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Jacque Vaughn is reportedly "gaining traction" as a candidate to fill the New Orleans Pelicans' head coaching vacancy.

"I'm not saying he's gonna get the job because Charles Lee on the Bucks' staff is also, I think, gonna be a strong candidate, but the word out of Chicago at the draft combine is that Jacque Vaughn, who is close to [Pelicans general manager] Trajan Langdon ... is gonna get a real serious look," ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Friday on The Hoop Collective podcast.

Vaughn spent 12 seasons in the NBA with five different teams. He finished his career in 2009 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs and quickly made the transition to coaching as a member of the Spurs' staff under Gregg Popovich in 2010.

He previously served as head coach of the Orlando Magic for two-plus seasons beginning with the 2012-13 campaign. He compiled a 58-158 record with no playoff appearances.

The 46-year-old Los Angeles native served as the Nets' interim head coach last season following the resignation of Kenny Atkinson. He guided Brooklyn to a 7-3 record to finish the regular season, but the team was swept in the opening round of the postseason by the Toronto Raptors.

Vaughn was a carry over to the Nets' new coaching staff led by Steve Nash this season.

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"I think Jacque's qualities speak for themselves," Nash told reporters in September. "He is an incredibly high-character individual, extremely hard-working, prepared, and he is an all-around top human being so to have people like that to work with every day is incredible."

The Pelicans are searching for a new head coach after Stan Van Gundy was fired earlier this month after just one season.

New Orleans was expected to take a step forward this season led by a core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, but it failed to keep pace in the loaded Western Conference, missing the playoffs with a 31-41 record.

One of the biggest tasks for the next head coach will be building a relationship with Williamson, the face of the franchise after being selected with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.

A report from The Athletic last week noted there's concern that "thinly veiled unhappiness" from the superstar forward's family may have "seeped into the player's own views."

The Pelicans haven't provided a timetable for completing their coaching search.

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