In as shocking a piece of news as we’ve seen in recent Nets history, the Nets and Kenny Atkinson have “have mutually agreed to part ways.” Jacque Vaughn will serve as head coach for the remainder of the season.
Sean Marks called the move, “an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time.” He spoke to the media shortly after noon.
Nets GM Sean Marks addresses the media https://t.co/FoR3wzJujM— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 7, 2020
Headline from Marks: “I think in this matter, this didn’t involve the players.” Asked if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving factored into the decision to dump Kenny Atkinson, he responded, ”Same way all 17 players factored into it.”
He said the decision was the “culmination of a long series of events, me asking Kenny and Kenny asking me. He’s brutally honest with people and himself. But there was no one specific event...
“Kenny is brutally honest…the humility he showed in saying ‘hey my voice is not what it once was here’.”
The unsmiling GM did hint that there was issues involving playing style, saying the two’s discussions involved “the right pieces in the right places.”
Marks declined to discuss the next coach. “I’m absolutely not gonna comment on the next coach. Jacque Vaughn is our head coach right now”
The Nets also permitted select players to speak with the media...
Spencer Dinwiddie addresses the media https://t.co/ntt7P6bleX— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 7, 2020
Caris LeVert addresses the media https://t.co/DB3BsT8Clv— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 7, 2020
Similarly, Vaughn spoke to the media. He emphasized “listening” and “communicating” with the players and in general, the need for “collaborative truth.”
Jacque Vaughn addresses the media https://t.co/070as9zbyx— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 7, 2020
“It’s today’s game, and being able to adjust to that, getting the most out of talent that’s on your roster, but also listening and hearing the voices of the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 guys on your roster,” Vaughn said. “It’s crucial, and having that relationship is a must in today’s game.
“I don’t want to speak for those guys [regarding pushback], but what I will say is that in today’s game you have to be able to continually reinforce your philosophy and continue to communicate with guys.”
NetsDaily’s Anthony Puccio was first on Twitter with the news...
The Brooklyn Nets and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson have mutually agreed to part ways. Jacque Vaughn will serve as head coach for the remainder of the season.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 7, 2020
Pooch also reported that the decision was based on unnamed players desire to replace the head coach.
Source offered no names when discussing players that wanted him gone, but that’s what I’m being told. #Nets— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 7, 2020
Speculation immediately turned to the Nets ailing superstars, Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving.
Here is something you can take to the bank: If Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant wanted Kenny Atkinson to be the coach, he'd be the coach.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) March 7, 2020
Bondy later tweeted that owner Joe Tsai talked with players on the Nets.
According to a source, Joe Tsai made the call to fire Kenny Atkinson after consulting with players.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) March 7, 2020
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on SportsCenter, discussing the move, stated:
“In the conversations those two (Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks) had, they both had felt that Atkinson’s voice had run its course with this team.”
Clevis Murray of The Athletic Boston reported that the decision was made Friday.
Source: The decision for the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson to part ways was made on Friday.— Clevis Murray (@ClevisMurray) March 7, 2020
And Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo! Sports quotes a league source that Atkinson wanted out as much as the Nets wanted him gone. Goodwill described Marks as “hellbent on firing a friend.”
League source tells Yahoo Sports Kenny Atkinson wasn’t keen on coaching KD and Kyrie next season: “Kenny pushed for the parting just as much, if not more than Brooklyn.”— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) March 8, 2020
Here’s the official announcement.
“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team,” said General Manager Sean Marks. “This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time. Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons. The foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons. We are forever grateful for all of Kenny’s hard work and dedication to the Nets and the Brooklyn community. Kenny, Laura and the Atkinson family will always remain a part of our Nets family and we wish them nothing but the best in the future.”
Atkinson compiled a 118-190 record in his three-plus seasons with Brooklyn. He finishes his tenure in Brooklyn ranked third in franchise history in games coached and fourth in wins. He had been hired in May 2016 to a four year deal which was extended by two years last summer.
The news comes somewhat out of the blue. There was no forewarning and there is no indication what provoked the decision or its timing. However, Stephen A Smith reported on ESPN three days ago that he didn’t “believe” the Nets organization “believes” in Atkinson.
The team’s new owner, who has praised Atkinson in the past, had to have played a role in the decision. This would be the second major change in the Nets hierarchy in recent months. Tsai hired, then dumped, David Levy as CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center in the fall. That job has not been filled.
Tsai tweeted out his farewell to Atkinson following the announcement...
I am extremely grateful to Kenny Atkinson for what he’s done for our franchise over the years. If we did not have him, we would not be where we are with promising young guys still improving. All the best Kenny.— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) March 7, 2020
Atkinson is expected to be in high demand this off-season, says Woj...
Kenny Atkinson will be in tremendous demand on the market, especially with teams executing a rebuild. There's no question about his comfort level and track record leading those teams. https://t.co/jlAS1WEkKd— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 7, 2020
- Nets players were behind Kenny Atkinson’s demise: sources - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets players shocked over Kenny Atkinson ouster - Mollie Walker - New York Post
- Superior Nets culture? Not after bogus Kenny Atkinson firing - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Nets’ coaching possibilities after Kenny Atkinson firing - Mark Fischer - New York Post
- Rich Kleiman’s Mark Jackson fandom could spark Knicks, Nets coaching war - Marc Berman - New York Post
- Nets, Atkinson mutually agree to part ways - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Knicks should take a close look at Atkinson - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Nets players react to Kenny Atkinson’s stunning firing - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kenny Atkinson, like Mark Jackson with the Warriors, won’t get the opportunity to finish the job with the Nets - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kenny Atkinson out as Brooklyn Nets coach in surprise split - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Kenny Atkinson’s tenure with Nets comes to surprising end, as sources say Kyrie Irving prefers Tyronn Lue to take over - VIncent Goodwill - Yahoo! Sports
- After parting ways with coach Kenny Atkinson, Nets remain mostly mum as to why - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Who might be the Nets’ next coach? A look at a possible list of candidates - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- No Gap Year For Atkinson As Nets Send Him Packing - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Nets, coach Kenny Atkinson agree to part ways - ESPN
- Can the Brooklyn Nets’ next coach lead Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to title contention? - Kevin Pelton - ESPN+
- Kevin Arnovitz on Kenny Atkinson and Nets parting ways (audio) - ESPN
- Nets parting ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson - Corey Hersch - SNY
- Kyrie Irving prefers Tyronn Lue to be next Nets coach: report - Coby Green - SNY
- Only A Title Can Justify Nets’ Absurd Decision To Fire Kenny Atkinson - Mike Mazzeo - Forbes Sports
- Rockets shocked by Nets’ dismissal of Kenny Atkinson - Jonathan Feigen - Houston Chronicle