Kenny Atkinson continued his tour of sports talk radio Thursday, appearing with Alan Hahn and Rick DiPietro on ESPN Radio and Frank Isola and Mitch Lawrence on SiriusXM. For the most part, he hit on the same themes including a more extensive discussion of the point guard position ... and mentioned, for the first time, Shane Larkin's possibilities.
"I kinda compare it to --the way the league is now-- the importance of a point guard in the NBA I'd compare almost to the importance of a quarterback in the NFL," said Atkinson in response to a Hahn question about whether a point guard is a high priority for the franchise.
"They're the high usage guys, handling the ball all the time and I know this is a cliche but it's a pick-and-roll league now and those guys are making all the decisions. They're dropping back to pass, they're reading defenses. They're reading who's open, if the role guy is open, if the guys who are spaced out is open. It's a huge, huge position, so that's going to be a big decision for us on who we get at that position."
Then, he volunteered that there might be role for the 23-year-old Larkin who has a player option, but noted free agency will likely be the focus.
"You know, Shane Larkin dd a pretty good job for the Nets at the end of last season. You look at him and hopefully there's some in-house stuff that we can work with but free agency will be big too."
Atkinson's comments suggest that he sees potential in the 5'11" speedster who did, it must be admitted, showed some pick-and-roll synergy with Brook Lopez but there was no hint he'd be the starter. .
So who would the starter be? That's the big question. During the same show, without Atkinson present, Hahn said that if the choice came down to signing Jeremy Lin or trading for Jeff Teague, both huge fans of Atkinson, he'd go with the Lin, noting that his time in New York and last season in Charlotte proved he could handle the starting job.
"He has starting quality talent," said Hahn. "He was also a huge hit in New York and he has a connection to the head coach." It was Atkinson who recognized Lin's potential when both were with the Knicks.
Atkinson can't talk about the Nets interest in either, as long as they are under contract and in interviews won't even discuss LinSanity or Teague's role in the Hawks resurgence. Lin, who the Nets approached last summer, has said both that he's tired of moving but that he will give every option a good look in free agency. Teague, at points, seems like he is lobbying for a trade, with the Hawks seemingly ready to move on with Dennis Schroeder.
Atkinson's comments about Larkin were another indication that he sees development possibilities with the players he already has on his roster. He and/or Sean Marks have said positive things now about eight Nets -- Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Sean Kilpatrick, Markel Brown, Bojan Bogdanovic and now Larkin. Marks has been careful to say things can change, but has made if clear he wants to see several of them return.
The new head coach also spoke about his meeting with Mikhail Prokhorov and the rest of the ownership group ... and how intimidating Prokhorov can be ... physically. "It impressed me ... this guy's in shape. You know, if we lose 10 in a row, he might come over and lay me out!"