Kenny Atkinson Rumors

Becky Hammon on Knicks' radar?

Those expected to be interviewed include potential front-runner Tom Thibodeau (due to his connection to Rose), Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, interim head coach Mike Miller, 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Bulls assistant Chris Fleming, and Magic assistant Pat Delany. Meanwhile, Spurs assistant Beckey Hammon was described to Begley by a source as “a name to keep an eye on.”
Shams said that the Nets opening was created because a number of Nets players —not just Kevin Durant and Irving— weren’t crazy about Atkinson’s offense. “There were a few things,” said The Athletic reporter. “Let’s start early in training camp. The offense he still wanted to go with was something that didn’t vibe with his best players, from Kyrie Irving to Kevin Durant to Spencer Dinwiddie on … and so forth … which was a free for all offense. It wasn’t like a set regime, a set style. He still wanted to play the way they were kind of playing with D’Angelo Russell. And I don’t think guys went with that.
Shams also reiterated that a Nets team meeting following the blowout loss to the Grizzlies was the beginning of the end. “And as time wore on, people started to see it wear on Kenny Atkinson. There was a big blow up team meeting, the Wednesday before he was fired. There was a big big team meeting —lot of emotions. And in that team meeting, Kevin Durant, as I reported, as I was told, said these weren’t championship type habits we want to build here in Brooklyn. And I think that message rang true throughout the whole organization. Any time Kevin Durant is going to speak up in a team meeting, everyone’s going to listen. “You match all those factors in and Sean Marks let Kenny Atkinson know what time it was.”
Mike Miller, the interim coach who acquitted himself well after taking over for Fizdale, will get a look. Kenny Atkinson will also be interviewed, according to The Athletic. Around the league, people have cautioned to never count out John Calipari, given the Kentucky coach’s strong connection to Rose’s associate, William Wesley. But the belief is that this is Thibodeau’s to lose, and a source said he’s confident about getting the job — to the point that Thibodeau has made calls to assemble a staff.

Knicks interested in Kenny Atkinson

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.
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Looking back on it, D’Angelo isn’t ready to give Atkinson all the credit. In his eyes, Atkinson only went to him as a last resort, when Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie were injured. “I’m not going to give it to Kenny,” he said. “I still don’t think he knew what he had, honestly. I don’t think he knew what I was capable of in the fourth quarter.”
Unexpected news stunned Jacque Vaughn on the morning of March 7. Two phone calls — first from Kenny Atkinson, then from Sean Marks — shook up Vaughn’s world. Atkinson suddenly was out as Brooklyn Nets head coach after nearly four full seasons, and Vaughn would work as the interim coach for the remainder of the regular season and any playoff games. “(It’s) nothing that I had scripted in my mind at any point, in the imagination,” Vaughn said the day he assumed the interim duties. “It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind. But it’s a part of who we are right now and we’ll continue to move forward.”
Atkinson could sense his voice wasn’t carrying the same weight in the locker room. If it hadn’t been apparent to him earlier, it became clear by February. And we’re not talking full-scale insurrection here, just a few powerful voices. If Atkinson saw the writing on the wall and knew a parting of ways was inevitable, why wait? Pardon the gory analogy, but better to fall on the sword now than take a knife in the back later — especially considering the timing.
Storyline: Nets Coaching Search
David Fizdale, who once navigated the balance between a program’s identity and a superstar’s influence as a former Miami Heat assistant, called Brooklyn’s firing of Kenny Atkinson “a kick in the stomach” and implied the coach didn’t have enough support. “When it comes to players with power, your front office has to really be strong and your culture has to be strong to weather disgruntled players,” the former Knicks coach said on ESPN Radio. “And you have to have a certain amount of support for your coach so when things get turbulent. “I’ll give you a perfect example, it wasn’t always perfect in Miami between (coach Erik Spoelstra) and LeBron. But one thing we knew for sure, Spo wasn’t going anywhere, because he had the support of (team president Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison), from the standpoint of, ‘This is our culture, this is how we do things, and everyone has to adjust to that.’ That’s the thing I respect so much about those teams like San Antonio and Miami, they make the players adapt to their culture. They don’t go the other way.”
“When it comes to players with power, your front office has to really be strong and your culture has to be strong to weather disgruntled players,” the former Knicks coach said on ESPN Radio. “And you have to have a certain amount of support for your coach so when things get turbulent. “I’ll give you a perfect example, it wasn’t always perfect in Miami between (coach Erik Spoelstra) and LeBron. But one thing we knew for sure, Spo wasn’t going anywhere, because he had the support of (team president Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison), from the standpoint of, ‘This is our culture, this is how we do things, and everyone has to adjust to that.’ That’s the thing I respect so much about those teams like San Antonio and Miami, they make the players adapt to their culture. They don’t go the other way.”
“I don’t really have an opinion one way or another,” Fizdale said about Irving. “But you can’t deny the fact he won a championship in Cleveland and did enough to help a team get all the way to the end, and was a huge part of it. And the last two places it just didn’t work out and I wasn’t in the building to know exactly what was going on. But it can be one of two things: He was either that guy who doesn’t adapt and kills culture. Or he’s a Jimmy Butler who needs to find a right fit.”
Shams on lack of communication between Atkinson and his players: ”Early in training camp, the offensive structure Kenny Atkinson had in place, the players were just not going for it and there was never that open line of communication between Kenny and his players.” On Kevin Durant speaking up during team wide meeting after blowout loss to Memphis: ”When he chimed in and pointed out that listen we have to improve our habits, this is not how you build a culture of championship contention. When Kevin Durant speaks, everyone listens and I think that was definitely a major critical moment in this thing as well.”
Storyline: Kenny Atkinson Out
Why now: ”Both sides kind of agreed that your voice (Kenny’s) is just not the same anymore like you’ve lost this team, and it is unsalvageable. It is something you won’t get back. I think at that point Kenny is like listen: if you’re going to fire me, get it out of the way I’m done.” On Joe Tsai’s role: ”Joe Tsai has been conversational with players over the course of the whole season. I haven’t heard any level of significant impact that he has had on this, that remains unclear. But listen he is the owner of the basketball team, the franchise, the business. For him not to have a voice would shock me.”
Shams on lack of communication between Atkinson and his players: ”Early in training camp, the offensive structure Kenny Atkinson had in place, the players were just not going for it and there was never that open line of communication between Kenny and his players.” On Kevin Durant speaking up during team wide meeting after blowout loss to Memphis: ”When he chimed in and pointed out that listen we have to improve our habits, this is not how you build a culture of championship contention. When Kevin Durant speaks, everyone listens and I think that was definitely a major critical moment in this thing as well.”
Storyline: Kenny Atkinson Out
Why now: ”Both sides kind of agreed that your voice (Kenny’s) is just not the same anymore like you’ve lost this team, and it is unsalvageable. It is something you won’t get back. I think at that point Kenny is like listen: if you’re going to fire me, get it out of the way I’m done.” On Joe Tsai’s role: ”Joe Tsai has been conversational with players over the course of the whole season. I haven’t heard any level of significant impact that he has had on this, that remains unclear. But listen he is the owner of the basketball team, the franchise, the business. For him not to have a voice would shock me.”
Back in December, Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson shared some pretty prescient thoughts for a guy who had recently landed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on his roster. “I know my time is ticking,” he said after becoming the longest-tenured major professional league coach in the New York metro area. “It puts me on edge. Tough business, tough town, expectations have been raised. So I know my time will eventually come. Just do the best I can until that happens.”
Storyline: Kenny Atkinson Out
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.
At halftime of the Nets’ 129-120 overtime win in Boston on March 3, Atkinson lit into his players and challenged them, sources say. It stopped short of escalating into a long back and forth, but this much was evident: Atkinson was not backing down. He was not holding back. He later pulled every starter off the floor for the fourth quarter and let Caris LeVert and a group of reserves rally from a 21-point deficit. Then on Wednesday night, after a 39-point home loss to Memphis, no one held back.
Storyline: Kenny Atkinson Out
The Nets held a spirited team meeting, according to sources, starting with several veterans expressing that they wanted to see Spencer Dinwiddie play like the player they know, and later with people in the room calling out Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan. Then perhaps the most critical thing of all happened: Sources say Durant chimed in, pointing out that the Nets must improve their habits and that they were not building the proper culture traits necessary for a title contender.
“From what I gather, there is a growing sense over the past several weeks that something was brewing behind the scenes, and Celtics fans know that with Kyrie Irving things are very complicated behind the scenes,” Haberstroh told Abby Chin. “On the surface, the young players have been playing very well. But there were rumblings that things were not great and that Kenny Atkinson was not happy with the situation there. And whether Kyrie Irving was behind it or not, it’s hard to believe that at least he didn’t have some input in the direction of the team.”
In a year that was nothing more than groundwork for the future, the meshing of Atkinson’s style with Durant and Irving was on trial. Even though Irving only played 20 games and is out for the season following shoulder surgery and Durant is still recovering from his Achilles injury, everyone had to deal with each other and honestly evaluate if this would be a marriage that would stand into next season. “Kenny pushed for the parting just as much, if not more than Brooklyn,” a league source told Yahoo Sports.
Marks wanted to take the pressure off the players, saying it was something he and owner Joe Tsai were collaborating on more recently. But as someone who should take the pulse of his most important players before making such a change, he’s too smart to do that without knowing the room. There seemed to be friction from the start, dating back to when the team’s rigid methods seemed to clash with the individual equity stars like Irving built up through years of on-court success.
The Nets who spoke Saturday say Marks didn’t canvas them, and Durant — who spoke with Marks before Friday’s win — declined comment, but said in September he picked Brooklyn partly for Atkinson. Still, Atkinson realized some players were tuning him out, with Irving believed to be among them. “I never really did,” LeVert said. “But we had a lot of new guys this year, so you never really know how that goes.”