Nets Notes: Atkinson, Durant, Irving, Jordan

In an in-depth story for The Athletic, Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer take a closer look at Kenny Atkinson‘s final days in Brooklyn, detailing how the Nets ultimately came to the decision to part ways with their head coach.

As Charania and Schiffer explain, a team meeting following last Wednesday’s blowout home loss to Memphis was an inciting event. During that “spirited” session, people in the room aired their grievances, with Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan among the players who were called out. Perhaps most importantly, Kevin Durant suggested that the Nets must improve certain habits and that they weren’t building the sort of culture traits that a legit title contender has.

According to The Athletic’s report, no directive from Kyrie Irving or Durant was ever given to replace Atkinson, but the Nets’ two new stars “never connected” with the incumbent head coach and there was a growing belief they weren’t interested in playing for him next season. A handful of other players were also believed to have started “disconnecting” with Atkinson, per Charania and Schiffer.

In Wednesday’s meeting, players didn’t hold back on critiquing Atkinson’s coaching style, expressing their “growing displeasure” with his communication tactics. Charania and Schiffer write that the aftermath of that meeting could have gone one of two ways. Atkinson could have become more motivated to fix those issues players had — however, sources tell The Athletic that the head coach instead came out of that session “dejected” and not wanting to let anyone “dictate his job.” He began to talk about leaving the job on his own terms, if necessary.

Atkinson and GM Sean Marks ultimately made the final decision to part ways late on Friday night and into Saturday morning, according to The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Nets and their coaching change:

  • Nets center DeAndre Jordan took exception to the idea of blaming Durant and Irving for Atkinson’s departure, calling those reports “bullsh–,” as Peter Botte of The New York Post writes. “I’m close with Kyrie, but Wilson (Chandler) is a new player, Garrett Temple’s a new player. We’re all new players,” Jordan said. “So if you’re going to say new players, put it on all eight of the new players.” Jordan added that he was “shocked” by the news, adding that Atkinson “did a great job with us.”
  • For what it’s worth, the Athletic report from Charania and Schiffer suggested that Jordan was among the players to express frustration to Atkinson last week, with sources indicating there had been a “season-long tension” relating to the coach’s decision not to start Jordan over Jarrett Allen. In Brooklyn’s first game under Jacque Vaughn, Jordan entered the starting lineup, signaling the “beginning of the end of the old Nets,” writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores whether Mark Jackson – who is expected to be a candidate for the Knicks‘ head coaching job this spring – may also be on the Nets’ list of targets, given Rich Kleiman‘s fondness for the former Warriors head coach.
  • As for Atkinson’s next move, one source with knowledge of the situation who spoke to Charania and Schiffer is confident that the former Brooklyn head coach won’t be out of work for long if he doesn’t want to be. “Kenny will be back coaching soon,” the source said. “He works too hard. Works his ass off. He will probably take the time away and replay the scenarios and relationships that went wrong — and come back stronger for the job he wants.”
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31 thoughts on “Nets Notes: Atkinson, Durant, Irving, Jordan

  1. Nope, wasn’t Kyrie! Nothing to see here! The Nets went from a team on way up, solid home grown talent, in control of their own draft picks finally, tons of cap space and a well run organization with a well regarded head coach to a dumpster fire in 3/4 of a season. Good luck next year!

    • amk3510

      The only thing they sacraficed to sign Kyrie was DLo. Quit being derranged and blaming everything that goes wrong on him. And no I could care less about him or the Nets.

  2. metsie1

    Man the Nets weren’t kidding. I guess they really wanted to be the Knicks of New York. Mission complete!

  3. This is on Sean Marks and ownership. You can’t blame them for wanting to spend long-hoarded cap money on a superstar, but to bring in Kyrie and DJ, who haven’t been satisfied in other situations where they were expected to be championship contenders, I would guess most fans felt immediately this wasn’t gonna go well. Jarrett Allen is the clear choice to be getting the bulk of minutes at center, but now they have to bow to DJ’s complaints to keep Kyrie and KD happy, and they boot one of the most committed coaches in the game. I’m so bummed that this is the end result of the rebuild we’ve been so patient with.

      • That is still one more than Harden and Westbrook combined. Kyrie is definitely a star player. Is he going to be the best player on a championship team? No. But neither is either of your crushes that you dedicated your name to so what’s your point?

        • dynasty in boston

          In what league is Krylie a top player? China? Greece? It’s not the NBA

    • dynasty in boston

      Yup. Kayrie burns bridges everywhere he goes. And Durant will only go where he has a compliment of superstars to support him. Only now it will be that much worse, coming back from that type of injury

  4. stevep-4

    Sounds like Atkinson gave them the finger, good for him. This seeming league wide trend of the lunatics running the asylum has got to stop, in some ways this is also the result of making 19 year olds millionaires and then hoping the maturation process will take care of itself. This generation of players will strangle the goose that laid the golden egg. I guess that is an improvement over Latrell Sprewell literally strangling his coach.

    I was at the game last night and Jordan looked good but Allen was far more effective overall, so the starting/bench discussion is somewhat overheated. They were shuttled in and out based upon game situations, so the ‘matter of pride’ seems to be the only issue here.

    However, on good teams players just play whatever way it takes to win, rather than snipe at the coach or each other, especially after losses. Just to note, they have not been playing well as a team – they almost blew a game they led comfortably for 3 quarters against the Bulls last night. No Atkinson to blame for that.

    • Strike Four

      Coaches, commentators and ref’s egos are much worse than the players.

        • HoopsR

          Because they know they control the game. They know they hold true power, no matter how much a player barks at them. It’s not like they’ll get struck in this day and age. When you aren’t afraid of a 7 foot man, there are reasons for that.

          • ZacharyH

            What LOL. The players don’t control the game? The refs do? Why not shut up and play? Why keep complaining? It’s pathetic.

  5. GABEPERKINS1

    It definately sounds like Atkinson gave them the middle finger.. players whining. That team will never be a championship team.. it’s funny hearing durant talk about championship habits but he himself didn’t learn about championship habits until he joined another team that won before he joined.. Then when that team wouldn’t make it about durant, he left.. Jordan is obsolete in today’s nba.. kyrie is straight cancer.. Atkinson developed Dinwiddie, lavert and Harris.. he had nothing when he took that job.. still recovering from lack of picks from kg and pierce trade.. put his head down with what he had and they became a playoff team.. good job nets.. that’s why your organization is garbage..

    • Strike Four

      KD is going back to GSW without ever suiting up for the Nets, bet on it. He literally mentioned “culture”…

      • amk3510

        I guess you missed how KD disliked Draymond and the way GS handled his injury. But sure he is going back just like Iggy who will demand a trade this summer. He was seen wearing Warrior hoodies this season right?? So it must be happening!!

  6. Strike Four

    Please, all NBA fans are begging you: please give head coaching jobs to JVG and Jackson, only so they stop whining and complaining all throughout every game they commentate on.

    I have never seen sports commentators relentlessly hate their own product on air the way those two do. Its astonishing how they continue to find employment while never once claiming the game is good to watch.

  7. TheMilkman

    Not a fan of Jordan at all, but Jarrett gets tossed around like a rag doll. I like Allen as a 15-18 minute back-up. ………. Kyrie doesn’t need a coach. He does whatever he feels like doing and wears out his welcome everywhere. I guess they couldn’t have Durant without Kyrie, but one negates the other so whats the point?

  8. Atkinson did a very solid job in coaching a couple of rebuild rosters, which tend to have their own dysfunctional tendencies, and then emerged as a solid coach for the same players when things stabilized. But the accolades he’s now getting are over the top. After that magical stretch of games in the middle of last year, the team was never able to establish any consistency, backsliding over the last part of last year and getting blown out in the playoffs. Atkinson did NOT deserve to be fired. So what? When has that ever been any kind of standard? NBA coaches get fired when a team thinks 51% that another guy will do better coaching its players going forward. It’s fair too, because they’re paid to be fall guys. Built into their contracts.

    • x%sure

      Atkinson will be fine, probably he wasn’t even fired.
      Rightly or wrongly Atkinson is winding up representing the “inmates/asylum” fans or the “do it my way or no way” crowds.

      I’m more worried about Dins, declining & getting called out. He could have been let down from a number of sources; or gotten tired.

  9. Skip, Tampa

    Players absolutely ran coach out of a job, period. Justified in this case, heck no. Mark’s sat back and didn’t even get involved. Total wimp out for him.
    If KD is seriously interested in Culture and not just his own, then he should give Pat Riley a call.
    Hope this team drops out of the playoffs, clearly don’t deserve it.
    Fans sure deserve better.

  10. Fartface Wilson

    I mean I’d start Allen at the 4 and Jordan at the 5.

    They started Chandler the other day.

    Chandler.

  11. El Don

    Good riddance Kenny you aren’t that good, what you are brilliant at is selling ice to the Eskimos, as somehow all the fans here seems to think that you are so brilliant, but really you are brilliant at been mediocre & average… well done Nets, that was a good move.

  12. GABEPERKINS1

    I’d like to see what he can do with the talent in Atlanta.. that team will be solid in near future..

  13. Chief Two Hands

    I cannot wait to see Kevin Durant try to coexist with Kyrie Irving.

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