Jacque Vaughn has begun his Nets tenure 15-7, but maybe he should be credited with an extra victory. He may be winning over Kevin Durant.
Durant, who infamously requested a trade in the summer then reportedly demanded GM Sean Marks and then-head coach Steve Nash be fired, returned to the organization after no trade was worked out.
The Nets were 2-5 when they split from Nash, and the reins eventually were handed to Vaughn, a former assistant who has sparked a renewed defensive effort from the Nets.
“Jacque is doing a great job of making adjustments throughout a game,” Durant said Monday after the Nets beat the Wizards in Washington, their eighth victory in nine games.
Durant mentioned the subpar quality of many of the opponents the Nets have knocked off recently, but he was not apologizing for the wins — and he was crediting the head coach.
“I’ve liked the brand of basketball we’ve played on both ends of the floor,” Durant said. “Regardless of who is on the court, we still played our system.”
When asked if he is happy, Durant always answers affirmatively because he is healthy and playing basketball.
The happiness level for a superstar signed through the 2025-26 season and making an early MVP case is always worth monitoring, though, and the Nets’ coaching switch appears to have helped.
“[Durant’s compliment] hopefully signifies that we’re doing the right things, we’ve made the right adjustments and we’re heading in the right direction in our approach,” Vaughn said Wednesday over Zoom before the Nets visit Toronto on Friday. “If you can think back to when I first got this job, I said I was going to keep things extremely simple, and it was going to be about basketball.
“And I know for Kevin, those are two things that are extremely important. The things that are going on outside of basketball, we try not to even touch on. When we come to the gym, it’s about this group getting better.”
Royce O’Neale is expected to return Friday after missing two games due to personal reasons, Vaughn confirmed.
Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren are “working towards adding more minutes,” Vaughn said. Simmons has played in two games since returning from his calf injury, and Warren in five since debuting after nearly two years of foot issues.
Neither has played more than 23 minutes in a game since returning, and Vaughn did not state the minutes would pick up immediately.
“We’ll continue to get a pulse of how they respond from each game,” the head coach said.
The Nets continued to play yo-yo with Day’Ron Sharpe, who was recalled from the Long Island Nets.
On Tuesday, the big man scored 19 points with 12 rebounds in 30 minutes in a G-League win.
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