Chris Mannix of The Vertical spoke with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson about the team’s rebuild; a process Atkinson admitted can be overwhelming.
“I look at it like I deserve … like I deserve to start at the bottom. This is how it should be. I shouldn’t be handed some prime job,” Atkinson said. “I really believe that I have to pay my dues, and it’s great. It’s funny the situation we are in, without our picks, we never use that as a crutch. We never talk about the past. We’re talking about getting better in the here and now, and getting better in the future.”
Atkinson certainly has paid his dues; the Nets are currently 11-52, having won just 3 of 34 Eastern Conference games. Atkinson discussed the vision he shares with GM Sean Marks.
“Sean and I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task,” Atkinson said. “We needed guys that were going to be able to keep pushing through and guys with high character that, despite the won-loss record, they’re going to come in here with a smile on their face and keep working their tails off, and that’s exactly what we’ve gotten from one to 15. We push these guys pretty hard, but everyone wants to be coached, accepts coaching. That attitude, that work ethic, that’s eventually going to pay off.”
More from the Atlantic…
- Jackie MacMullan of ESPN discussed the Nets’ challenge of “rebuilding from nothing.” MacMullan spoke to Heat president Pat Riley, who was hesitant to criticize former GM Billy King for the infamous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett blockbuster trade. “I’m a gambler — I might have done the same thing,” Riley said. “At the time, they were trying to build something. They had a new arena, a new owner, and so you go after the best players, and you tell everybody you are going to win. It didn’t work, and now they are paying the price.”
- Doug Smith of The Star wrote about P.J. Tucker‘s adjustment to Toronto. Tucker, who became an immediate fixture in Dwane Casey‘s rotation, now has a thorough understanding of the team’s “schemes and nuances.” “A lot of stuff was on the fly: just people talking on the court, coaches yelling to me from the sidelines, literally the other team hearing them telling me what I’m doing,” Tucker said. “When you come into a team in the middle of the year that is doing well, you just want to kind of follow along and fall in place.”
- Isaiah Thomas didn’t mean to throw coach Brad Stevens under the bus by saying “we can’t be experimenting in Game 63,” after a recent loss. Thomas, who met with GM Danny Ainge regarding his remarks, clarified his point of view with Chris Forsberg of ESPN. “That’s not me. I just said how I felt at that time,” Thomas said. “I was frustrated, I thought we should have won. I was always taught to speak my mind. But for the most part, I don’t want to be a distraction. My teammates know that. It’s bigger than how I feel, I guess.”
- There’s plenty of room for the Knicks to improve their draft position down the stretch, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Monday’s victory, Berman notes, dropped the Knicks from being in a tie for the sixth-worst record in the NBA to ninth-worst. Despite the team’s clear incentive to tank, coach Jeff Hornacek isn’t yet on board with throwing in the towel. “Until you’re out of it and doesn’t look good, it would come from management,’’ Hornacek said. “If we’re out of the playoffs, we’ll start doing that. There’s veteran guys here who will never give up until they’re out of it. We’re going to try to still win games.’’