Kenny Atkinson did not deny that there has been simmering bad blood in his locker room. Nor that constant losing doesn’t affect team chemistry. But he also sees a good side: that within the “bickering” —Sean Kilpatrick’s word— or “conflict” —Atkinson’s, there is a belief that the team’s (many) issues can be addressed.
“It was general frustration when you’re not playing well, offense and defense. If it was just silent, I’d be more concerned,’’ Atkinson said. “When you’re down 20-something points, that happens in the NBA. It happens a lot more than people think.
“I understand it. The players talked about it, they communicated about it after the game and I think it’s great. They resolve things amongst themselves. They’re competitive guys. Guys will get on other guys, so it’s pretty normal.”
Brian Lewis of the Post broke the story after the Nets latest blowout loss to the Wizards, quoting Kilpatrick.
“When you come out flat like that, that’s what’s going to happen, especially when you’re on the road. You can’t do that,’’ Kilpatrick told The Post. “There was a lot of bickering back-and-forth with each other instead of playing together, and that’s not the way to be as a team.”
No one is naming names, who’s complaining about who ... or what, but Brook Lopez says it’s been handled. There was a short players-only meeting after the Wizards game.
“It was in the locker room. We handled it. It’s important we all have respect for each other and also have the ability to hold each other accountable,’’ Lopez said of the flared tempers. “It was just frustrating. It was emotional and a frustrating game, and guys were just venting. I don’t know what was necessarily correct or who said what, but the important thing is it happened.”
Atkinson said on Saturday that he didn’t believe it warranted a full-scale team meeting, that the players are handling it.
“I don’t think conflict is bad. I’m not going to have a team meeting because a couple of guys were bickering. I’m a coach who embraces conflict. We have conflict in the video room, and we have brutal ones at times.”
That the feud (or feuds) got out is in itself surprising. The Nets pride themselves on keeping things inside. Leaks to the media are not just discouraged, they are grounds for dismissal.
The larger issue, of course, is whether the airing of grievances leads to better performance.
- Nets air grievances as losing, frustration continue to mount - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets bicker with each other in loss, then hold players-only meeting - Greg Larson - Newsday