Luhm: Orlando's Jacque Vaughn on coaching fast track
Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn is on the fast track these days, which is appropriate for someone a colleague calls "the Ferrari of Goodness."
Jazz fans remember Vaughn as a former first-round draft pick who spent four seasons in Utah, mostly as a studious backup to John Stockton and Howard Eisley.
Vaughn finished his 12-year playing career in San Antonio, where he ended up on the coaching staff.
The job as one of Gregg Popovich's assistants was a springboard for the 37-year-old Vaughn, who last summer became the youngest head coach in the NBA.
Vaughn took over a team with few expectations one fractured by the Dwight Howard Saga and the All-Star center's eventual trade to the L.A. Lakers.
Some wondered why Vaughn accepted the job, given the apparent bleakness of the situation and near certainty he would get other offers in the future.
Vaughn cites a long relationship with Orlando ownership and confidence in new general manager Rob Hennigan, who also worked for the Spurs. Apparently, trying to win without Howard also appealed to him.
Asked why he signed on with the Magic, Vaughn said, "The challenge of getting a group together and getting them to play for a common goal. Getting guys in the locker room who want to be there and trying to tackle this thing together."
Vaughn's coaching bloodlines are impeccable: Roy Williams at Kansas, Jerry Sloan with the Jazz and Popovich in San Antonio.
"I've taken a lot of lessons I've learned along the way," Vaughn said. "But playing for coach Sloan, there are a lot of lessons I still go back to.
"One of them is you approach this like a job. You're professional about it ... with a hard-hat mentality. A lot of times that pays off for you."
In Utah, Vaughn also played for then-assistant Gordon Chiesa. The two quickly formed a close relationship one that led the Magic to hire Chiesa as a special consultant.
"I call Jacque Vaughn the Ferrari of Goodness," Chiesa said, "and it's the truth. I speak it from my heart."
Chiesa's role with Orlando?
"I'm a listening ear for Jacque and the coaching staff," he said. "I'm a sounding board. They run things by me. It's a mentoring-type thing, and it's worked out great. ... I'm in a wonderful situation."
As an assistant in Utah, Chiesa believed a handful of his players Stockton, Eisley, Jeff Hornacek and Vaughn would coach.
So far, only Stockton has resisted the calling. Not so for Vaughn, who has already raised eyebrows around the league for his work with the Howard-less Magic.
"He's the youngest coach in the NBA, but he's a world-class communicator," Chiesa said. "He has mastered the art form of wearing sneakers but also understanding people."