While it was obvious that Kiki Vandeweghe wasn’t returning as head coach for the Nets next year, in his opening press conference today Mikhail Prokhorov made it obvious Kiki won’t be the GM either. When asked about Vandeweghe this is what Prokhorov had to say: “With Kiki, he’s a very talented guy, he did his job in a very tough season for the team, and his agreement expires in summer and I wish him well.” Basically Prokhorov is saying, ‘Thanks for holding the fort down last year, but we don’t need you anymore.’
This is the right move for the Nets. Vandeweghe was absolutely terrible as coach of the Nets seeming to have no idea how to utilize the talent on his team. Early on in his tenure, Devin Harris even went to Rod Thorn to say he was unsure what direction the team was heading in, and that he didn’t think Kiki really had any idea what he was doing. Throughout the season, Harris’ concerns proved to be justified as the Nets looked horrible and lost more after the firing of Lawrence Frank than they did during Frank’s start to the season.
While Vandeweghe was awful as a coach, Prokhorov is right that he did his job getting them through last year, but now they need to move on. Vandeweghe’s record as GM was very average as well. He helped orchestrate the Jason Kidd deal, but at the end of the day, it was Rod Thorn who got the Mavs to include Devin Harris. The trade that Vandeweghe bears the most responsibility for was Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian two years ago. Vandeweghe loves Yi, and even though Jefferson hasn’t been the player he was in his prime, they could have gotten more for him than Yi and Bobby Simmons. Yi has proven to be a bust, so far not living up to his billing, and his value has mainly come in his marketability as opposed to his on-the-court play. And now that Vandeweghe is gone, it is time for his pet project Yi to go as well.
Now what does this move mean for Vandeweghe? After his stint as interim head coach, no team in their right mind will hire them to be a head coach. That would be an incredibly bone-headed move because the Nets didn’t seem to respond to Vandeweghe and looked confused on the court constantly. While his head coaching future is all but finished, he could latch on as an assistant somewhere because he was instrumental in turning Dirk Nowitzki into a primetime player. A team like Toronto with Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu would benefit from his expertise on the bench as long as he’s not head man.
On the otherhand, his future as a GM is cloudy. I think Vandeweghe deserves another job, maybe not as GM but as director of scouting or the Draft czar for a team because his Draft record is pretty solid. While Vandeweghe has made some bad trades (like the Yi trade mentioned above), his Draft record is pretty solid. With the Nets he was influential in them drafting Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts in 2008, and snaring Terrence Williams in 2009 – all who appear to be great picks even though Anderson is now on the Magic. It is clear he played a role in scouting these guys, and while Thorn made final decisions, Vandeweghe got these guys in front of him. If a front office position doesn’t materialize for him, he can always call ESPN to get his old analyst job back.
What do you think? What’s Vandeweghe’s next move?
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