Jacque Vaughn joining the coaching staff may be bigger than expected

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The question came casually enough. One reporter in the gathered Media Day scrum asked Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich his choice for biggest offseason acquisition, between Manu Ginobili’s twins, Tiago Splitter and James Anderson.

Coach Pop’s response was anything but casual.

“Jacque Vaughn.”

Why would Jacque Vaughn, a career backup point guard who couldn’t shoot, joining the Spurs’ coaching staff as an assistant, be the biggest offseason pickup for San Antonio?

“Jacque Vaughn is a star,” Popovich said. “You can see the same qualities in him that you saw in Avery [Johnson].”

Hearing Coach Pop talk about him, you wonder if Vaughn was priority number one this summer, not Tiago Splitter. When the Spurs officially announced Vaughn as a member of the coaching staff, Popovich told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

“We didn’t really have a spot for him, I just made it up,” Popovich said. “That’s how badly we wanted him. We didn’t want to lose him to someone else.”

During Vaughn’s playing career, Popovich often described him as a coach in the making.

“It was evident everyone on the team looked up to him and respected him, even though he wasn’t the most talented player,” Popovich said. “He was always on my list as someone we wanted back when he was done playing.”

When Vaughn decided this summer he was ready to return to the NBA workforce, Popovich and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford had one question for him: “What do you want to do?”

“He could have done anything, in management or coaching,” Popovich said. “If he had wanted to go into management, we would have created a spot in management.”

When Gregg Popovich tells the assembled media that an assistant coach who averaged 4.5 points and 2.5 assists during a 12-year NBA playing career is the team’s biggest offseason addition — over the reigning Spanish League regular season and Finals MVP, and the current 20th overall pick in the draft — it sticks with you.

Who knows if Vaughn’s impact will be apparent immediately or over the long term. But if Coach Pop, a man who has proven to know personnel, is this excited, you can’t help but think there’s a reason.

  • BALLHOG

    Pop is an interesting character for sure. Just never know what to expect from this coach. Maybe it isnt a bad thing, but certainly a bit eerie…

    J. Vaughn as coach does what for Spurs? Does it make them better as a team? Will Mr. Vaughn be working with young point guards? If so, why exactly? Could this hire of Mr. Vaughn be a quota buster in disguise?

    If a spot were going to be created to bring in an assistant coach/mentor, how could the Spurs be more inclined to bring in Vaughn as opposed to Bruce Bowen? Our defense could stand to improve a bit….

    I maintain hope for Pop though. Hope that he will have the gonads to be creative with his roster this season..

    Something new:

    Starters
    1 Parker
    2 Anderson
    3 Jefferson
    4 Mcdyess
    5 Duncan

    2nd Team
    1 Ginnobli
    2 Neal
    3 Temple/Gee/Bonner
    4 Blair
    5 Splitter

    Still need a Big comming off the bench…Pop must fill that spot. It is critical. I can only hope…

  • zainn

    wow ballhog, you completely left out george hill…

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  • BlaseE

    Two Vaughn Records (that I’m not positive he still holds):

    1. Record for Most Consecutive Missed Shots to Start a Season: 22 Field Goal Attempts (2001)

    2. Record for Most Assists in Game without a Field Goal Attempt: 13 (4/18/06)

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/200604180PHI.html

  • Tyler

    Jacque was always the consummate professional – on and off the court. During timeouts, I’d always see him coaching/giving advice to TP.

    Couldn’t be happier for the guy (and couldn’t be happier we got our hands on him). From the outside, he really embodies what the Spurs stand for.

    Glad to have him.

  • BlaseE
  • ITGuy

    “If a spot were going to be created to bring in an assistant coach/mentor, how could the Spurs be more inclined to bring in Vaughn as opposed to Bruce Bowen?

    IDK, maybe because BB doesn’t want to be a coach or he hasn’t shown interest in being a coach to the Spurs?

  • Kevin

    Maybe the next Spurs head coach when Pop retires in a couple years? Or is it too early to guess at such a thing?

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @Kevin

    Mike Budenholzer might have something to say about that. Then again, Bud could be gone when Pop’s ready to retire.

  • Jim Henderson

    BALLHOG
    September 29th, 2010 at 4:53 am

    We need to see who makes the roster first before we can have a handle on first & second teams. You left out Hill, which I’m sure was just an oversight on your part.

    At this point, it appears to me that there’s going to be a battle waged in camp for the last three spots on the active roster. I would suggest that the following seven are the “real” contestants:

    Anderson, Neal, Penney, Gee, Simmons, Gist, & Temple

    That’s a pretty competitive field for just three spots. Anderson has an edge because he’s a first round draft pick with a guaranteed contract. You’d also have to give Neal a slight edge because he has a guaranteed contract. And Temple also has an edge because of his stint with us last season, and the fact that Pop appears to really like him. Plus he’s a versatile combo guard. That said, we could use a back-up SF that can shoot with range and play some “D”, and I would give the edge to a veteran in this case.

    So I’ll go ahead and make a GUESS on how all this shakes out.

    Anderson, Temple & Simmons make the active roster, and Neal is the 13th guy on the bench that could be activated for some games by switching with another player (e.g., Temple), or in the case where another player gets put on injured reserve.

    With this guess at a final roster, the following would be my starting and second units:

    Parker
    Ginobli
    RJ
    Duncan
    McDyess

    Hill
    Anderson
    Simmons
    Blair
    Splitter

    Reserves: Bonner, Temple, Neal

    P.S. Of course some adjustments to these line-ups could be made, particularly during the first couple months of the season.

  • Chris

    I’ll tell you the coach the Spurs miss the most – PJ Carlissimo. When he was on the bench, the Spurs were a much more effective team.

  • BlaseE

    @ Andrew

    Maybe because we have such a high FO turnover rate, I always thought Coach Bud just wanted to stay here as an assistant. I can understand someone loving coaching and basketball but not wanting all the BS, lack of job security, and stress that comes with the head coach title. And even if he feels this way, it still makes sense to go on interviews to hear teams out. Like I said though, that’s just the impression I get.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @BlaseE

    You bring up some good points. I don’t know for sure, I just assume that because Bud has interviewed for some head coaching jobs, he wants to give it a shot. If he knows / thinks Pop will retire soon, he may stick around as an assistant for longer. But if he doesn’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised if he left for another HC job. Or he could want to be a career assistant. But being as young as he is, I just assume he’ll want to try and run his own squad.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    I tell you what, I am happy to see Bobby Simmons here seeking to make the team! He is a legit 3 Man, perfect to back up (or if he flashes his MIP talent of 06′ – replace) Richard Jefferson. The guy plays defense, WANTED to come here and is a nice 3 point threat. I hope he makes the squad because he would solidify us at the SF since “Bruce Bowen isn’t walking through that door”! GO SPURS GO, DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!!!

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Sorry, Simmons was the MIP in 05′ not 06′ but you get the jist of what I am saying, he could be a bad mo-fo!

  • rob

    I read this article when it was first listed. I was wondering when the staff of 48 would blog it.

    I too found this interesting. Pop must feel that Vaughn has a great basketball mind that can be translated to the players and in the game. And perhaps there is/are some ideas that Vaughn has proposed to Pop that might be implemented this year.

  • Spursfan2010

    okay for everyone i checked on boston’s roster and i see mcdyess on it?
    sooo…. don’t count on him ? go check your self so yeah i really dont know ?

  • KiriKou

    JV’s odds in SA look better than Brian Shaw’s in LA, even though Phil Jackson certainly is closer to retirement than Popovich. Don’t know if “Zenmaster” would endorse a potential heir like Pop just did.

  • Phife

    I truly believe, and this may be a little abstract, that the Spurs brought Jacque on at the end of his career for this reason exactly. None of us know how good of a coach this guy can be, since probably 99% of us haven’t even talked to the man face-to-face. If he can connect with the current roster (he PLAYED with the Triumvirate, Bonner, and (most importantly) Hill.) He’ll be a great addition.

    If you look at his history; he made a team and stuck with them through the whole season. His “stats” sucked, but he actually made teams and held his roster spot. He had to add something more than just points/assists to stay on-roster at every stop he made.

  • Michael

    That’s certainly interesting news.

    From what I remember, J. Vaughn did reasonably well for Spurs as the backup PG. I am almost sure that he’s part of the 2003 championship team!!

    IMHO, Spurs most urgent need is returning to its defensive root!! Last year, Spurs’ offense was fine, but defense sucks, especially average on defending the 3pt.

    I find it amazing, since preventing the 3pt (especially on the sides) is one of Pop’s passion, and you could see Pop’d go mad on players whenever the opposite team launchs a couple 3pt on the sides.

    After Bowen retires, I think that the Spurs Locker room is missing a “voice”! It’s important, because I think the big 3 – Duncan, Manu and Parker are basically low-key guys by nature. It seems Manu tried to speak up more last year though! Nonetheless, there needs a *voice* constantly and consistently screaming/yelling to remind everyone playing defense, and making everyone accountable on their various defensive assignments.

    If J. Vaughn provides that, then he may well be the most important “free agent” for Spurs :)

  • spursfanbayarea

    @Chris
    Your observation about PJ is spot on. He was able to do a lot of the preparation for the following teams which was invaluable to the team. I would love to have him back on the bench.

    My starting Five

    Parker,Hill, Jefferson, Duncan, Splitter

    Ginobilli ,Anderson, Simmons, Blair, McDyess/Bonner.

    Ginobilli is definitely starter material, but he will help the second unit be more effective so I would bring him off the bench to assist the second unit. Also to limit his minutes due to his all out style. Blair plays really well with manu and anderson and simmons would get nice open shots with manus playmaking. Popovich should pair splitter next to duncan to do the dirty work and learn where to be on the court. Duncan would be able to instruct splitter in where to be for correct defensive positions. Also splitter will be able to play the pick and roll very effectively on the defensive end.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    I think it’s a pretty solid bet that Ginobili will come off the bench to start the season. Obviously, he’s done it before and he practically admitted as much on Media Day, saying that he doesn’t care about starting, that’s more of an American thing. It only matters to him if he’s finishing games.

    If I had to guess, I’d go with a Parker-Hill backcourt on opening night.

  • Shawn_b

    Yeah you’re right Chris PJ is the stud, man … the team is tougher when he was with us.

  • Hobson13

    I agree with what several have indicated about Bobby Simmons. I think he would be an EXCELLENT backup to RJ. If Simons still has anything left in the tank and can nail 3′s at his usual 40% clip, it would allow us to slowly bring along a younger player like Anderson. On a previous blog (several months ago) I had suggested Simmons, but had forgotten that he was still on the market. He was an $11 million player last year (yes he was VASTLY overpaid), but if he can still play, he would be a real nice addition for the veteran min. At this point in his career, Simmons is not starter material, but can certainly step in for RJ for 15-18 min/game and spread the floor. He’s made his money in the league and perhaps he wants to be on a winning team. I sure hope he does well in training camp.

    spursfanbayarea
    September 29th, 2010 at 6:59 pm
    “My starting Five
    Parker,Hill, Jefferson, Duncan, Splitter
    Ginobilli ,Anderson, Simmons, Blair, McDyess/Bonner.”

    I actually like this lineup. A healthy Parker/Hill backcourt will be something special to watch this season. I know Jefferson would prefer to play with Manu, but perhaps he will be better adjusted to Parker after an entire season with the organization and an offseason working out with Pop. Manu could be a formidable playmaker with he and Blair running the PnR while Anderson and Simmons spread the court. The second unit would be a bit small, but would also be a nice change of pace.

    Jacque Vaughn should be a nice addition to our coaching staff. If I remember correctly, he didn’t have elite athleticism as a player, but he understood the game and was a good game manager. Sometimes decent players make excellent coaches.

  • Jim Henderson

    To those of you that think that Hill will/should start, with Ginobli coming off the bench, your points are well-taken. After all, Pop knows Ginobli is excellent at the 6th man role, and he appears to have plenty of confidence with Hill in a starters role.

    That said, let me take a moment to elaborate a bit from an earlier post as to why I think that Ginobli & McDyess should start off the season in the starting line-up. First of all, there’s been plenty of transition going on around the big three over the past couple of years, and so I think it’s very important that as a unit “this team” experiences the special confidence that comes from winning the great majority of their first games together. Thus I’m thinking 7-3 or better could be pretty important for this team to solidify the notion that they can be a team with a special destiny this year. And I just think that TP, Manu, RJ, TD, & McDyess are the best starting five to give our team the proper confidence right from the outset.

    Other than that they’re the best five in my view, I have a few other reasons for starting these five players to start the season. First, I don’t think Splitter will be ready to be a starter by the season opener, even though I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up starting at some point during the season, perhaps as early as years’ end. Second, over the long haul I’m not particularly enamored with the idea of playing two undersized guards together more than it makes sense to, even though Parker & Hill have played well together in the past (at least offensively). However, the fact is larger SG’s can be a challenge for Hill to defend, and with Manu’s size advantage he is our overall best defender at the SG spot. The Manu/TP pairing would also allow Hill to develop at the point as a “creator” along side the “good-sized” 1st round pick Anderson as his back court mate on the second unit. Hill has the ability to be a better creator, but he needs more time to develop in this regard, particularly given the uncertainty of Parker’s return in 2011. It’s also probably a good idea to give Hill, Anderson, Blair, & Splitter as much playing time together as possible since they could form a significant element of the team’s future.

    In any event, it will be interesting to see what Pop decides, and what his rotations look like. Should be an exciting start to a new season!

  • Easy b

    Start ginobili…. Then manage his minutes. His style of play sets the tone for the team each game, and the season. G Hill six man
    Jacques signing is another intangiable boost for the spurs