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Atlanta Hawks players praise their departing coach

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In Atlanta, the top priority for the Hawks is beating Boston in the first round of the playoffs.  Just below that, it seems, is wishing Kenny Atkinson well in Brooklyn ... and agreeing among themselves that he'll do very, very well.

Jeff Teague, who worked with Atkinson, summed it up...

"My guy!" Teague told Ohm Youngmisuk at Hawks practice. "That is the best news you guys gave me today ... I have been with him for a while now and all the work he does with me personally, the late nights, the early mornings, to get an opportunity to be a head coach, he deserves it.

"[He’s] a worker, he is someone who knows the game inside and out," Teague continued. "Someone that loves the game. He really loves basketball. He is always in the gym, first one here every day. He wants to win. He is going to bring a different culture to Brooklyn. They are lucky to get a guy like him."

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who no doubt recommended Atkinson to his old Spurs pal, agrees with his point guard.

"Kenny has a great feel and great knowledge for the game," Budenholzer said. "Those two things are not always synonymous. The feel is sometimes more subtle, more hard to find. And then he has a way of connecting. So when you are talking about player development, you got to understand the game and be able to feel it, and then got to be able to communicate it and connect with players."

And Kent Bazemore, the free agent shooting guard?

"He was a point guard and point guards are special. They are the kind of people you don’t come by a lot in the game of basketball. As far as how you know they can translate it from the court to off the court and put it into certain words for you so you understand. He is very good at that."

The Hawks weren't the only hoopsters to praise the Nets choice. Jeff Van Gundy who was a Knicks assistant when Atkinson tried out for New York in 1991 thinks the Nets new head coach has skills beyond player development.

“This guy has vast experiences,” Van Gundy told the New York Post. “Player development is one component, but I think you have to be good in a lot of areas. The main one is getting a group to follow your ideals, what you stand for, and I think he’s going to be outstanding.”