Without question, the job interim coach Jacque Vaughn did with a roster-depleted Nets team in going 5-3 in seeding games and holding on to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference was one of the most surprising performances of the NBA restart.
But the Nets’ 150-122 loss to the Raptors in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday night in Orlando completed a four-game sweep, leaving his job status far from assured.
Asked before the game if he had received feedback from general manager Sean Marks about the job he has done since replacing Kenny Atkinson in March, Vaughn said, “We just carry on every day. I show up, coach this team, really embrace this moment. No conversations besides what I had for breakfast, and I’ll keep it that simple.”
At the same time, Vaughn is willing to let his performance under difficult circumstances speak for itself. “I look at it as the relationships [continue] on an everyday basis,” he said. “From management to coaches to performance team to players. Those get established. How I coach on an everyday basis. My interaction with players. My ability to be authentic. Those things become evident when you’re around each other. So it’s been a great opportunity for me just to be who I am and reveal what kind of coach I am.”
In that respect, Vaughn is no different from the newcomers who have joined the Nets in Orlando, such as Tyler Johnson, who played very well, and 19-year veteran Jamal Crawford, who was limited by injury to one brief appearance.
Vaughn said the evaluation of whether to bring them back doesn’t just depend on performance. “We’ve been able to spend quality time together,” he said. “That’s huge as far as culture and fit. So look at it more than the actual play. Overall, some questions have been answered, but we also want to look at the person.”