Kenny Atkinson’s obsessive focus on individual player development led to his contract extension, Michael Scotto of The Athletic reports. ESPN reported on Monday that the Nets head coach would receive an extension, which Scotto confirms. Brooklyn is in playoff contention after winning 20 and 28 games the last two seasons.
“He has done arguably as good of a job as any coach in the league when you look at his improvement each year,” swingman Joe Harris said. “Obviously, I’m again biased just because I’m around him day in and day out and I see his approach and his competitiveness, his toughness, what he’s preached to us has trickled down to each one of the guys. He embodies what we are as an organization. We’re obviously not getting to this point without a leader like that.”
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Members of Atkinson’s staff received two-year extensions, Scotto tweets. Atkinson’s staff include Bret Brielmaier, Chris Fleming, Jordan Ott, Pablo Prigioni, Jacque Vaughn, Adam Harrington and Travon Bryant.
The Nets will be an attractive free agent destination even if their playoff bid comes up short, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kyrie Irving will give them consideration, a source told Lewis. There’s also a general feeling that free agents respect what Brooklyn has built and the culture around the franchise. “We’ve competed and won enough games this year that they know that all we need is another All-Star, another dynamic player to take the franchise over the top,” forward Ed Davis told Lewis. “I think that’s what those top-tier free agents that’s what goes through their minds. That’s how they think.”
The Nets are close to completing contract extensions with head coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The agreements are expected to be signed in the near future. The news doesn’t come as a surprise, since Atkinson is a prime candidate for Coach of the Year. Brooklyn has a .5oo record with four games remaining and currently holds the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.
Atkinson was an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks before he getting the head coaching job with the Nets. Atkinson’s current contract runs through next season. He signed a four-year deal worth approximately $10MM when he was hired.
February 10th, 2019 at 5:45pm CST by Eric Spyropoulos
After years and years of asset collection and patience being the primary focus of the Sixers‘ plans, Elton Brand has dramatically changed the team’s course of action in a few months. First it was trading for Jimmy Butler. Then this past week, Brand took it to another level by trading several future assets for Tobias Harris, effectively creating a “big four” in Philadelphia.
These moves were made because Brand’s mindset is that the Sixers are in a position to contend for a championship right now. As Brian Seltzer writes for the 76ers’ team website, Brand is acting with a sense of urgency and focus on building a true championship team this season.
Should the 76ers re-sign both Harris and Butler, the team would instantly become one of the more expensive in the league, but Brand should be satisfied with the group of talent he has assembled for the foreseeable future.
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The Nets are finally getting healthy. While Spencer Dinwiddie will remain out for several weeks, the team has recently added Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert back into the mix, which means there are new challenges to figure out when it comes to playing time and opportunities, as Brian Lewis analyzes for The New York Post.
Napier has scored over 18 points in each of his last three matchups and established himself as a potent downhill threat that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson plans on utilizing in pick-and-roll situations.
Another option for Atkinson with Dinwiddie sidelined is two-way guard Theo Pinson. Pinson made a splash in his first taste of extensive action but will need to polish his jump shot if he hopes to be more than a glue guy.
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The Nets are quietly confident that they could convince Anthony Davis to re-sign should they end up with him on their roster ahead of his 2020 free agency, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes, but that doesn’t mean going out and acquiring him is the franchise’s best move. The Nets, Lewis says, wouldn’t likely be able to trade for Davis without decimating their young core.
After playing professionally in Australia since 2010, Mitch Creek decided to sign a G League contract in hopes of earning himself an an NBA contract. That gamble paid off this week when the 26-year-old made his debut with the Nets after signing a 10-day contract. “If I played this entire G League season and didn’t get a call up then nothing changes. I’d be proud and I could go home with my head held high. Now it’s just the icing on the cake right now,” Creek told Tom Dowd of the Nets’ official site.
It’s been a breakout fourth season for Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and much of the credit for that goes to Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I give him a lot of credit for the teaching moments,” Russel said, per an Associated Press report. “My knowledge and IQ has really rose to another level just from learning from my mistakes and him breaking it down and us [dissecting] the film together.” Russell is averaging a career best 19.5 points per game and has put himself firmly in the All-Star reserve conversation.
Although Frank Ntilikina‘s name keeps popping up in trade rumors, Knicks head coach David Fizdale says the club views the second-year guard as a distributor and defender “that can help us win next year and into the future,” per Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Ntilikina’s role has been inconsistent in 2018/19, but Fizdale said he’ll likely have the youngster back up Emmanuel Mudiay at the point for at least the next few weeks.
“I know me as a player and I know my ceiling is really high, higher than everyone thinks,” Ntilikina said.
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In addition to addressing Ntilikina’s role today, Fizdale also reiterated that the priority up front for the Knicks is to develop centers Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. That means Enes Kanter may not have a spot in the regular rotation, Begley tweets. “I’m going to try my best to share those (center) minutes, but I do have a priority to grow (Kornet and Robinson),” Fizdale said.
With Kenneth Faried poised to clear waivers today, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson expressed some regret that he couldn’t find more minutes for Faried during his time in Brooklyn (link via Greg Joyce of The New York Post). Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis were ahead of Faried on the depth chart at center, and Atkinson’s preference for playing small made it difficult to work in the big man at power forward. “He did everything we asked,” Atkinson said. “He was a great guy. He busted his tail. He was in shape. Just didn’t think he had great opportunity here.”
A NetsDaily column makes the case that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks have earned long-term contract extensions, arguing that Brooklyn should lock the duo up sooner rather than later.
January 13th, 2019 at 9:26pm CST by Eric Spyropoulos
Heading into the 2018/19 season, many expected the Nets to make another jump in the standings as a result of their players developing and the quality depth they added in the offseason. However, there were no expectations that at the halfway point of the season, the Nets would be sitting in the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference despite not having their best player available for the past two months.
The Nets are 21-23, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that they were 8-18 in early December. Instead of focusing on getting the best draft pick possible, Kenny Atkinson continued to believe that his team could turn it around, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Since December 6, the Nets own the league’s 12th-ranked offense and 15th-best defense.
Keep in mind that a lot of this recent run by the Nets has come without Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, not to mention Caris LeVert. The Nets use their depth and bench to their advantage on a nightly basis, which allows them to stay afloat when injuries strike.
With that being said, many still expect teams like the Pistons and Hornets to improve moving forward, while the Wizards have found new life since John Wall went down for the season. Do the Nets have enough top-end talent to lead them to the playoffs? Or will their strong bench and depth be enough for them to sneak in? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments!
December 23rd, 2018 at 4:59pm CST by Eric Spyropoulos
As the Nets have played well in recent weeks, one of the bright spots has been the play and development of Rodions Kurucs, the 20-year-old rookie selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. As Greg Joyce writes for The New York Post, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson believes that there is more to come for Kurucs.
Kurucs is coming off a career-high 24 points against the Pacers, a game in which he often spent his time on the floor guarding Victor Oladipo. As Joyce points out, Atkinson thinks that his recent play isn’t a flash in the pan situation, as he has been impressed with the rookie’s awareness on the floor.
Kurucs received his opportunity to start when Allen Crabbe went down with an injury, but with the way Kurucs is playing, it will be tough for the Nets, winners of eight of the past nine games, to take Kurucs out of the starting lineup.
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Amid some recent struggles, the Celtics held a closed-door meeting after their latest loss. Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston reads between the lines from several quotes stemming from that meeting to figure out what is causing the team’s issues.
“Oh yeah, because my arm just went off. I didn’t feel it for like five minutes,” Musa said, according to Lewis. “It was numb. [I couldn’t feel it], not at all. I felt like my arm was gone, so I was pretty afraid.”
The Nets released an official medical update on Musa last week, announcing that he’d begin rehabilitation immediately after being diagnosed with a shoulder subluxation. Musa has appeared in seven games with Brooklyn this season, spending most of the campaign with their minor league affiliate in Long Island.
Musa has held per-game averages of 20.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 16 NBA G League games this season, proving his worth as a young prospect. The Nets drafted him with the No. 29 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, making him the second-youngest player in franchise history.
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Al Horford and Marcus Morris will make their returns on Sunday against the Hornets, head coach Brad Stevens announced. Horford will be on a minutes restriction and has missed seven straight games with patellofemoral pain syndrome in his knee, while Morris will return from a one-week absence due to knee soreness. The Celtics have lost three straight games and currently own a 18-13 record.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was fined $25K for verbally abusing game officials and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection on Friday, the NBA announced in a press release. The incident occurred in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 114-106 loss to Indiana.
Knicks centerMitchell Robinson is progressing in his rehab from a sprained left ankle, according to the team (Twitter link). Robinson has moved from an immobilization boot to an ankle brace and will be out at least one more week, with the 20-year-old missing the club’s last four games.
December 9th, 2018 at 4:52pm CST by Eric Spyropoulos
As a result of the Nets owning their own first-round pick for the first time in four years and the struggles the team has dealt with after losing Caris LeVert, many fans have brought up the idea of tanking this season to land another top prospect. However, as Greg Logan writes for Newsday, the Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson won’t be actively trying to lose games any time soon.
The Nets have suffered several tough losses in recent weeks, having built up leads against the 76ers, Grizzlies and Thunder, only to fall short of victories on all three occasions. However, the team had a strong weekend, securing back-to-back victories over the Raptors and Knicks.
As it stands, the Nets sit at 10-18 and 11th in the Eastern Conference. The conference has a plethora of struggling teams, which would make it more difficult for the Nets to fall down the standings. It looks like this Nets team will continue fighting and scraping for every victory it can get.
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Fred VanVleet made his first career start for the Raptors earlier this season and as Mark Suleymanov points out for NBA Canada, it’s a role VanVleet expects to be in very soon. Last season, VanVleet was a key cog in the Raptors’ excellent bench units and finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting.
When asked whether he had any regrets about signing Gordon Hayward to a max contract back in the 2017 offseason, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge pushed back on that idea, Steve Bulpett reveals for The Boston Herald writes. “I see a lot of good things in Gordon,” Ainge said. “I think Gordon’s going to have a great year.”
September 23rd, 2018 at 8:02pm CST by Eric Spyropoulos
With training camp kicking off this week, on-court expectations the Knicks aren’t particularly high for the upcoming season. As Marc Berman of the New York Post explains, the organization has shifted its focus to player development and building a strong culture for the 2018/19 campaign.
After years of misguided attempts to make the playoffs, team president Steve Mills is excited about what the team is building, laying the groundwork with the recent hirings of Scott Perry as GM and David Fizdale as head coach.
Berman points out that all summer the discussion throughout the organization has been about patience, process and not skipping steps, words and phrases you would expect to hear from a team that is finally focused on building a contender in a more efficient manner.
With Kristaps Porzingis expected to miss a good chunk of the season, Fizdale will have the opportunity to work and develop the young players on the team, including 2018 first round pick Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, the talented defensive point guard.
The Knicks have their own 2019 first round draft pick and significant space under the salary cap to spend in free agency should they look to contend in the 2019/20 season. For now, the focus is on player development and instilling a successful culture behind the scenes in order to set the organization up for sustained success in the future.
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Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is focused on Brooklyn’s defense in the upcoming season, as he believes it’s the area the team can show the most improvement. Brian Lewis of the New York Post points out that such improvement will have to come organically, as the Nets didn’t add any standout defenders in the offseason despite the plethora of moves they made to improve their roster.
Despite all of the offensive firepower and talent on the Celtics‘ roster, head coach Brad Stevens still has concerns heading into the upcoming campaign. As Steve Bulpett writes for The Boston Herald, Stevens wants to make sure the Celtics don’t simply go through the motions on the offensive end of the court as a result of their talent and depth.
From their change in head coach to the addition of Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors are preparing for a training camp and season like no other, says Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. All eyes will be on the Raps this season as they look to not only compete for a championship, but also work to convince Leonard to re-sign in the 2019 offseason.