Did former Suns fan favorite play a part in his head coach getting fired?

The Brooklyn Nets recently fired their head coach Jacque Vaughn, but did a former Phoenix Suns fan favorite help push him out the door?
Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets
Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Although it feels like Kevin Durant has been with the Phoenix Suns for a long time now, February 9th of this month marked exactly one year since he was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to The Valley. In that time his presence alongside Devin Booker has been a massive success, with the 35-year-old regularly turning back the clock to help his current team win games and draw interest elsewhere.

On the other end of that trade, the Suns gave up a whole host of first round picks - as well as two fan favorites in Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson - in order to secure the services of the two-time NBA Champion. It was Bridges who hit the ground running in Brooklyn right away though, making us all question if perhaps he was a superstar in waiting when given the right opportunities.

But with the Nets having just fired their head coach Jacque Vaughn while sitting a disappointing 21-33 on the season, did Bridges have a part to play in the process?

Early indications are that he may indeed have had a helping hand in showing Vaughn the exit door, with NBA Insider Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium having the following to say on the "Run It Back" show that is part of FanDuel's NBA coverage;

"They felt like a lot of what Vaughn was running was being run improperly, without structure. Vaughn came into the year and said, ‘We’re gonna run a free-for-all offense.’ And the team, from what I gather, has been pretty bonded on the fact that developing a hierarchy was important."

Shams Charania

Despite not making much noise in the Eastern Conference - and letting guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Royce O'Neale go at the trade deadline - Bridges has still performed well. Always thought of as an elite defensive player, which he is, he also has the longest active consecutive games played in the NBA as well.

But this season he is averaging 21.7 points per game - which if you take the 26.1 points he managed in the final 27 games after being traded to the Nets last season - is a career high. So too are the 6.9 attempts from deep per night, with the 37.1 percent he is knocking down a fine return for a player who has averaged around that number since entering the league back in 2018.

Returning to Charania and he would go so far as to name Bridges, as well as Dinwiddie, as two of the players who were unhappy with the direction Vaughn was taking the team. One that, according to him, bizarrely involved building the offensive structure around the polarizing Ben Simmons;

"Multiple players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, who is now departed, and Mikal Bridges, were pretty vocal behind the scenes for months now about how the offense was running... And when they went into training camp, a lot of their offense was built around Ben Simmons, and him playing at the 1, and him playing at a high level for them."

Shams Charania

It certainly feels like Bridges at the very least didn't help Vaughn's case in Brooklyn, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He was the best player the Nets got back in a trade for Durant, and they seem unwilling to trade him to go into a full rebuild at this point either. Which makes him the Nets' best player, so doesn't that mean he can act like other franchise guys do in the league?

He might not have the accolades to back up that claim just yet, but Bridges is absolutely a fringe All-Star. Ultimately the best use for him might be as the third option on a title winning team - as he was when he was with the Suns - but until that happens and the Nets can get somebody else through the door, this is Bridges' team.

Next. 3 Suns who need monster second halves to save their jobs. 3 Suns who need monster second halves to save their jobs. dark

It is not any different than Adrian Griffin getting canned by the Milwaukee Bucks while they were literally top of the East, with Giannis Antetokounmpo having to come out and actually deny he had any involvement in the decision. You can take from that what you will, but do you think the Bucks would make any changes without consulting with their franchise guy?

So Bridges may have had a hand in this, but it shouldn't change the fact he comes across as a great teammate, a player the fans love (and still love in Phoenix), and the kind of guy you want on your team when trying to build a championship. Probably not the guy, but did coach Vaughn look like the coach who was going to take the Nets back to the top? Better to keep your current best player happy then.