On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets announced they'd hired Jacques Vaughn as the team's full-time head coach. Vaughn took over for Steve Nash on an interim basis and was tasked with navigating the Nets through some rather troubled waters as Kyrie Irving took center stage (again). The announcement is especially noteworthy for one very obvious reason-- it means Ime Udoka will not grace the sidelines for any team. This year, at least.
Immediately after Nash was fired, the NBA's most reputable insiders said Udoka to Brooklyn was all but a done deal. Everyone was very surprised Brooklyn would fire Nash and then hire someone else so quickly, much less a coach who is currently serving a suspension for organizational misconduct. But after some thought nobody was that surprised because the Nets have made it very clear that they'll go morally bankrupt to win basketball games and do not care about the circus that accompanies the team. Still, a wave of criticism washed over the organization as everyone prepared for yet another Brooklyn shitstorm.
And then we all kind of forgot about it because Kyrie Irving posted a link to an antisemitic movie on his Twitter and was super combative when confronted about that. It dominated the discourse for days and by the time the Nets finally suspended Irving the fact that they wanted to hire Udoka was all but lost in the firestorm of everything else.
With Vaughn's hiring, though, it's official that Udoka is untouchable. At least right now. Because if the Nets won't hire him, who will?
It's still unclear what led to Udoka's suspension. But it was obviously very bad. The Celtics wouldn't suspend the guy who led the team to the Finals in his very first year if there were any other recourse available. And the Celtics certainly wouldn't let him walk away to a division rival for free if they felt his transgressions weren't irredeemable. Yet it seems that whatever Udoka did was bad enough that the Celtics just want to get him out of town and forget everything that happened. How many times have you seen that with an instantly-successful coach?
The Nets were the only real option to bring him aboard because they were already such a mess that adding more fuel to the fire couldn't have made that much of a difference. But either Joe Tsai decided his team didn't need additional scrutiny or the Nets actually looked into what Udoka did and were horrified at what they found. Regardless of what drove the decision, Brooklyn ended any hope Udoka might've had about a (relatively) quick and clean resolution to his current situation.
It seems he is untouchable after all. Maybe that changes after his suspension is up in June. But for now he will not be seen on a court anytime soon.