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Nets coaching search: Mike Budenholzer among finalists for job, per report

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Former NBA champion coach Mike Budenholzer is a finalist for the vacant Brooklyn Nets job, according to Shams Charania. The Nets are also meeting with Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez and Phoenix Suns associate head coach Kevin Young. 

Nets owner Joe Tsai is set to hold in-person interviews with all three candidates and is expected to make a final decision in the near future. 

The Nets got off to a decent start this season, but fell apart in mid-December. A brutal 4-17 stretch over the next six weeks saw them fall out of even the Play-In Tournament picture, and they never recovered. By Feb. 19, the Nets’ front office decided to make a change and fired head coach Jacque Vaughn after less than two full seasons in charge. 

Vaughn had been promoted to head coach early in the 2022-23 season after the team fired Steve Nash, and was named permanent head coach a short time later. His tenure started off well, but everything changed when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant requested trades ahead of last season’s trade deadline. Overall, Vaughn went 64-65 during a tumultuous 129 games in charge, and oversaw a first-round exit in the playoffs last season. 

The Nets named Kevin Ollie interim head coach following Vaughn’s departure, but while he was initially considered for the full-time job, the organization has decided to go in a different direction. 

Budenholzer has an extensive track record of regular season success and boasts a .604 winning percentage over 10 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and Bucks. He is renowned for culture building and has missed the playoffs just once as a head coach. While his performances in the postseason have often been questioned, he did lead the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years in 2021.

Neither Fernandez nor Young has ever been a head coach in the NBA. Both are well regarded around the league, but would represent more of a risk than Budenholzer. 

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