In addition to welcoming Isaiah Whitehead (back) to Brooklyn, Kenny Atkinson talked about a number of things Tuesday, but his most vigorous comment was in response to a question about Brook Lopez's future...
Coach Kenny Atkinson was also insistent that the Nets aren't trading Brook Lopez: "No. Absolutely not. Have not talked about it."— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) June 28, 2016
The reason for the question is obvious. At his press conference, Atkinson said both Lopez and Thaddeus Young were building blocks for the team and he called Young "my guy." Two weeks later, Young was gone, traded to Indiana for the rights to Caris LeVert. Atkinson, as he has in the past, mentioned Lopez's leadership.
#Nets coach Kenny Atkinson continues to mention leadership with Brook Lopez and wanting him to be a leader. Definitely a focus.— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) June 28, 2016
Atkinson also said he would be coaching the Nets summer league team, whose top players will include Whitehead, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough.
And like his boss, Atkinson seemed to be lowering expectations on who the Nets will go for in free agency which begins Friday.
Kenny Atkinson on who Nets will go after in free agency: "Undervalued guys, guys that might be a little under the radar that can produce."— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) June 28, 2016
Kenny Atkinson admitted the Nets' free agent target is "Maybe not necessarily the big star. Maybe were not in the position to get that guy."— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) June 28, 2016
A little more specifically, he suggested what the Nets are looking for...
"I think veteran leadership is important. I think undervalued guys, guys that might be under the radar and can produce and maybe not necessarily the big star, maybe we're not in position to get that guy and really guys like Isaiah Whitehead that fill the characteristics we're looking for -- hardworking, high character, high basketball IQ is important for us and competitors."
The Nets haven't set a press conference to introduce LeVert, mainly because the Young trade can't be finalized until after Friday because of CBA regulations.