By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Nov 30 2009 7:01PM
New Jersey Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe is taking over as coach, sources told NBA.com on Monday. Vandeweghe replaces interim Tom Barrise, who coached one game after last week's firing of Lawrence Frank.
Vandeweghe is also bringing longtime coach Del Harris back to the bench as his top assistant. The two have worked together previously in Dallas -- Vandeweghe in the front office and Harris as an assistant to Don Nelson. Barrise and the rest of the assistants are expected to stay on staff.
Vandeweghe will try to jumpstart what's been a miserable season so far in New Jersey. Riddled by injuries and an erosion of talent in recent years, the Nets are off to a 0-17 start that tied the league record for the longest losing streak to start a season. Frank was fired after the first 16 games.
The Nets are off until Wednesday when former New Jersey All-Star Jason Kidd and the Mavericks visit the Meadowlands.
Harris is a logical sounding board for Vandeweghe, who doesn't have any head-coaching experience. Harris, 72, has won more than 500 games in the NBA and was on semi-retirement after spending last year on Vinny Del Negro's staff in Chicago. Harris was recently named general manager for the D-League team in suburban Dallas.
Harris is familiar with several players on the New Jersey roster, having coached All-Star point guard Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell and Eduardo Najera in Dallas.
The Vandeweghe-Harris move is similar to what took place in New Orleans after Byron Scott was fired. General manager Jeff Bower took over as coach and brought back former Hornets coach Tim Floyd as his top assistant.
A contract was expected to be executed within the next 48 hours, according to a source with knowledge of the team's plans, though Vandeweghe may be seeking an additional year or two extension to his contract. However, there is no indication that a deal won't ultimately be made. The Nets' current ownership has given team president Rod Thorn authority to make the hire, and Thorn wants to hire Vandeweghe.
It's likely that Vandeweghe's first game on the bench will be Friday, when the Nets host the Charlotte Bobcats, leaving current interim coach Tom Barrise in place for one more game--Wednesday's home game against Dallas.
Vandeweghe was not certain he wanted the job. Before agreeing to take it, Vandeweghe, according to sources, wanted some assurance that he could return to his general manager's job at the end of the season, when the team is expected to go after a permanent replacement coach. He also wanted a veteran assistant coach to help his transition to being on the bench. Vandeweghe was an assistant coach and director of player development for two seasons in Dallas under Don Nelson before moving to the full-time management side with Denver and New Jersey.
Other teams that have named general managers to replace fired head coaches--like New Orleans, which replaced Byron Scott with GM Jeff Bower, or Minnesota, which brought Kevin McHale downstairs to coach the Timberwolves last year after firing Randy Wittman--have not given those GMs such assurances. Vandeweghe was seeking an arrangement similar to that of Kevin Pritchard, who was Portland's player personnel director when he was picked to replace Mo Cheeks on an interim basis in 2005. Pritchard used those final 27 games that season to evaluate his personnel, then went back into the front office after the team hired Nate McMillan as its permanent head coach.
Vandeweghe is committed to playing the Nets' young core group the rest of the season, viewing this season as critical in evaluating exactly what the team's talent base is going into next summer, when New Jersey should be a major player in free agency.
TNT's David Aldridge contributed to this story
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