Former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson likely will also receive an interview, sources said. Atkinson and the Nets parted ways in March with the team at 28-34 and on the way to the postseason during a difficult fourth season at the helm. Atkinson helped turn the franchise around during his tenure, taking it from a 20-win team in 2016-17 to a playoff team last season and one that proved to be an attractive destination for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. He was a Knicks assistant for four seasons under head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Durant and Irving never connected with Atkinson and there was a growing belief that they did not have interest in playing for him when this team is whole again next season, sources told The Athletic. It was not limited to just Durant and Irving, though. Several other players are also said to have begun disconnecting with Atkinson. To be clear, a directive from Irving or Durant was not given to fire Atkinson.
Atkinson was replaced by assistant Jacque Vaugh on an interim basis. Some have suggested that Irving and Durant were responsible for Atkinson’s departure. Nets veteran DeAndre Jordan strongly pushed back against that theory on Sunday. “The reports are b——t,” he said.