Jacque Vaughn's strong work guiding the Brooklyn Nets earned him a contract extension at last season's All-Star break.
Just a year later, the Nets fired Vaughn after a 50-point loss in his final game, their worst since moving to Brooklyn.


The Nets announced Vaughn's departure Monday and said an interim coach would be named soon.


"This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward," general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. "Jacque has represented this organization with exemplary character and class for the past eight years. The consistent positivity and passion he poured into our team daily will remain with the players and staff he interacted with throughout his tenure."


The Nets dropped five of their last six games before the break to fall to 21-33, putting them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Their 136-86 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday was their worst defeat since leaving New Jersey in 2012 and the second-worst in franchise history, and leading scorer Mikal Bridges seemed particularly frustrated in his postgame comments.
Vaughn finished 71-68 with the Nets, guiding them into the playoffs on two separate stints.


Vaughn replaced the fired Steve Nash on Nov. 1, 2022, and quickly led the Nets from a poor start toward the top of the East. Brooklyn went 12-1 that December and 43-32 the rest of the season, making the playoffs despite trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the season.


But Brooklyn's lack of star power this season has been apparent, and Vaughn lamented last week the minutes restrictions that have kept Ben Simmons and some of his other top players from staying on the floor long enough to give the Nets a better chance to be competitive.


The Nets got off to a 15-15 start this season, but things began to turn when Vaughn made a curious decision to barely play or entirely rest all his top players during a 144-122 home loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 27. The NBA fined the Nets $100,000, the first time a team was sanctioned for violating the league's player participation policy that went into effect this season.


Vaughn got his first chance to coach the Nets in March 2020 after Kenny Atkinson was fired just before the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He led the Nets to a 7-3 record and into the playoffs in the restart "bubble" at Walt Disney World, but the Nets then opted to give the head coaching job to Nash, despite having no experience. Vaughn stayed on as an assistant.


It wasn't long before he got another chance to run the team after Nash was fired during a turbulent start to the 2022-23 season. The Nets got as high as second in the East before Durant was injured and the Nets gave Vaughn a multiyear contract extension on Feb. 21, 2023, with Marks saying he looked forward to Vaughn leading the team "for years to come."
Not quite one year, it turned out.


Without the shot-making that Durant and Irving provided, the Nets struggled at times when games were close in fourth quarters. Vaughn also faced a nearly season-long challenge to figure out his best lineup, with Simmons missing 38 games at one point because of a pinched nerve in his lower back and then was forced to miss some games or play limited minutes when he returned.


That meant the Nets played one way on the nights they had Simmons and another way when they didn't, a problem Bridges pointed to after the loss in Boston. But a night earlier, Vaughn had looked at a team that was getting healthier and still believed a turnaround was possible.


"I'm just going to be simple and thankful that we're getting guys back and hopefully we'll get to a position where we are whole and we come out of the break ready to make a push," Vaughn said.


Vaughn is 129-226 as an NBA coach, having gone 58-158 in his first opportunity with Orlando.


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By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer