Head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks in the...

Head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Playoffs against the Nets at Barclays Center on June 5, 2021. Credit: Steven Ryan

After firing coach Jacque Vaughn on Monday, the Nets have a double problem as they resume their season Thursday against the Raptors in Toronto and continue their fight to reach the play-in tournament.

The roster is in rebuild mode, led by Mikal Bridges. The team faces a relevance issue with the Knicks in position to grab a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference, led by an All-Star in Jalen Brunson.

For general manager Sean Marks, this is another important hire. The next coach must maximize Bridges, Cam Thomas, Cam Johnson and Nic Claxton while working around Ben Simmons and his injury history. The Nets must find a way to win now and do enough to attract a star player to pair with Bridges.

Here are some candidates to consider:  

Kevin Ollie

Ollie reportedly is the Nets’ interim replacement for Vaughn. This is his first season as an NBA assistant coach, but he spent six seasons as head coach at UConn and won a national title in 2014. He’s also a respected former NBA player, which fits the team’s recent hires with Vaughn and Steve Nash. The Nets have hired coaches with less experience than Ollie before, but given their need to make a splash, they could seek a bigger name rather than go internal again.  

Mike Budenholzer

Perhaps the biggest name available, Budenholzer won an NBA championship with the Bucks in 2021. A two-time NBA Coach of the Year, he had only two losing seasons in 10 years as a coach. The Bucks fired him after last season’s first-round playoff exit. Budenholzer is one of the league’s best coaches and the Nets would be wise to call, given his track record.  

Terry Stotts

Stotts spent nine seasons coaching the Trail Blazers before being fired after the 2020-21 season. He reached the playoffs in eight seasons, although the Trail Blazers got past the first round only three times. Stotts briefly was an assistant with the Bucks this season before stepping down during the preseason.  

Kenny Atkinson

Would the Nets look to hire a familiar name? Atkinson coached four seasons in Brooklyn and has been a Golden State assistant since 2021. Atkinson’s win total improved in his first three seasons with the Nets. His fourth year was marred by Kevin Durant missing the entire 2019-20 season because of injury and Kyrie Irving getting hurt before Atkinson was let go in March 2020.

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