NBA PM: Vaughn Embracing Uncertainty
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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The Orlando Magic officially introduced Jacque Vaughn, who ventured into coaching two years ago after playing 12 season in the NBA, as their new head coach Monday afternoon. While Magic chairman Dan DeVos, chief executive officer Alex Martins and general manager Rob Hennigan detailed the process and their belief in Vaughn, it was only a matter of moments before talk of disgruntled center Dwight Howard took over.
“I have not talked to Dwight,” Vaughn said. “But I have not talked to any Magic players at all. I’ve been on the outside looking in. Now I’m a part of the inner circle. Those things are probably to come and I look forward to talking to every Magic player that we have.
“For me now that I’m on the inner circle, I’m loyal to this organization and that’s the only way I think right now. What we do going forward will have the best interest of the ball club. That’s where my thought process lies and I think that’s a good thing.”
Vaughn sidestepped questioning about whether or not he’d like to coach Howard with the swiftness of someone far more experienced, but did drop a subtle jab that could be directed at the center and his trade request.
“There are a lot of players I would like to coach,” Vaughn said. “I want to coach guys who want to be great and who want to be here. I’m a simple person and for me it boils down to these simple things: being great, wanting to be coached and wanting to be here.
“I believe in Rob and his ability to get good people, good players around me. I want people who want to be coached, who want to compete and want to be great. I’m pretty easy.”
The necessities that Vaughn looks for in players has been formed after spending time with all-time greats Roy Williams of North Carolina, the retired Jerry Sloan and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who he made sure to thank.
“Roy Williams, his ability to show me how to believe in guys and care for them more than when they’re just on the basketball floor,” Vaugh said. “For that he’s the epitome of a great coach. To Jerry Sloan, who taught me the will to compete and consistency. And then the last five out of six years I’ve been by a gentleman who just goes by the name of Pop. I’ve emulated him, taken notes and shared an office. He’s been unbelievable to me. To be around his brilliance, I thank him tremendously.
“He gave me the opportunity. He threw me into the fire. He gave me the responsibilities of the other assistants. And that’s why I’m so indebted to him. He was an open book to me but it was the dinners we shared, the practices and talks that we had. That’s why he’s such a special individual. For me to have the access to him made this opportunity appealing and also made me ready for the opportunity because of the countless amount of hours I spent with him and tried to grasp every single thing that he wanted to share and didn’t want to share. I’ll forever appreciate that. “
There’s one commonality between Williams, Sloan and Popovich that will be a big part of Vaughn’s philosophy as a head coach.
“All those guys enjoyed the day to day competition,” Vaughn said. “They wanted guys on the floor who competed, played hard and sacrificed. But the common thread was guys on the floor who competed and I appreciate that.”
Another thing that Vaughn took away from his mentors was making sure he surrounds himself with good people. Along with reaching out to all of the current players on the roster, Vaughn also plans to assemble a coaching staff soon.
“I’m in the process of finalizing our staff,” Vaughn said. “The one great thing that I never have to worry about is doing things on my own. Rob and I will have a great partnership together. The core of my staff will be situated around guys with great vigor and enthusiasm for the game of basketball. They’ll be able to relate to our guys, communicate with them, teach them, correct them and praise them. That will be the qualifications of the staff we put together.”
No matter how good Vaughn’s staff is, if they enter a rebuilding mode it’s going to be hard to win at the rate the Magic fan base has grown accustomed to. Vaughn fully recognizes that dilemma, but it didn’t scare him away for one simple reason.
“Faith,” Vaughn sad. “Faith in your abilities. Faith in the people around you. One of the great character building attributes of the franchises I’ve been around is the foundation is in having good people around. Pulling and pushing in the same direction. The DeVos family is about that, Alex Martins is about that, and I know Rob Hennigan is about that. So for me it was a no brainer that with these gentlemen, it was ok, I’ll stick my neck out.
“There’s still a level of success that wants to be achieved. For me success is each and every day my team getting better. Better as individuals, better as players. For me that will be the goal moving forward and that will be the mark of success. I will believe in every single guy who puts on a Magic uniform. That’s the way I am. I will coach them because they want to be coached. I will hold them accountable and I will be consistent every single day. But I will believe in every single individual that puts on a Magic uniform this year and their abilities to compete and play for this organization.”
Now that the coaching search is complete with the hiring of Vaughn we should be finding out over the coming weeks just who will be donning a Magic uniform next season. Martins, DeVos and Hennigan maintained that they will do what is in the best interest of the franchise regarding Howard. Hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll find out exactly just what that is in their eyes.
Warriors Bench About To Get Boosted
The Golden State Warriors are close to making a set of moves that could be the difference makers in their quest to make their first playoff appearance since the 2006-2007 season.
Mark Bartelstein, the agent for small forward Brandon Rush and power forward Carl Landry, told Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com that he is nearing agreements with the Warriors for both clients.
Rush averaged nine points and nearly four rebounds a game last season, his first with the Warriors. He’s also fielded interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, but all they could offer was the mini-mid level, which the Warriors were sure to match.
Landry averaged 12 points and five rebounds this past season for the New Orleans Hornets, who moved in another direction after drafting forward Anthony Davis first overall and sign-and-trading for forward Ryan Anderson. Sources confirmed that Landry has been impressed with what he’s seen this offseason from Warriors and is excited about the possibility of playing there. Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack, who Landry played with in New Orleans, publicly campaigned for the Warriors to sign Landry and it looks like he’s going to get his wish.
Inking Rush and Landry to deals would be a great way for the Warriors to wrap up what has been a very productive offseason. With a healthy Andrew Bogut set to make his debut at center along with a very talented surrounding cast that will also include highly-touted rookie forward Harrison Barnes, this could be the season the Warriors move into the top eight for many years to come. It’s been 20 years since they’ve made consecutive playoff appearances, but the pieces for them to put that streak to an end finally appear to be in place.
Up Close With Jacob Pullen
Former Kansas State point guard Jacob Pullen had a strong showing at the Orlando Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers. After going undrafted in 2011 and playing in Italy last season, he’s hoping this is the year he can find a home in the NBA. He talks about that and more in this exclusive HOOPSWORLD interview.
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