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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

Articles tagged: Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson reportedly likely to join Ty Lue’s Clippers staff

Kenny Atkinson

The Los Angeles Clippers appear to be assembling a very impressive staff for coach Tyronn Lue.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is expected to join Lue’s staff as an assistant. This comes on top of Miami Heat assistant Dan Craig reportedly agreeing to take the same position with Los Angeles.

Lue has head coaching experience — he won an NBA title, after all. Still, the Clippers are making sure he has a lot of experienced and respected names around him. Atkinson spent four seasons as head coach of the Nets before abruptly parting ways with the organization earlier this year. He went 118-190 there with one playoff appearance.

Atkinson will join another big name on the Clipper bench. They’re putting together a fairly impressive staff for next season as they try to shake off this year’s disappointment.

Nets center says it would be ‘weird’ to see Kenny Atkinson coaching Knicks

Kenny Atkinson could end up coaching just minutes away from his previous NBA job, and one of his former players thinks that it would be an odd sight.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen was asked about the possibility of Atkinson becoming the next New York Knicks head coach. Allen replied that it would be “weird” seeing him coach their rivals but that it would motivate him to play even harder against the Knicks, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Atkinson, who was recently brought in by the Knicks for another interview, coached the Nets from 2016 until his firing this past March. The 22-year-old Allen began his NBA career with Atkinson’s Nets in 2017, developing into an excellent shot-blocker and a nightly double-double threat.

While Tom Thibodeau may still be the frontrunner for the position, Atkinson clearly has not-insignificant support for his candidacy, and his familiarity with coaching in the area surely has to be a point in his favor.

Bucks coach backs Kenny Atkinson for Knicks job

Kenny Atkinson is emerging as a legitimate challenger for the New York Knicks’ head coaching job, and he has the support of one top NBA coach.

Speaking with Marc Berman of the New York Post this week, Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer stumped for Atkinson to become the next Knicks coach.

“I’d love to see him be coach of the Knicks,” said Budenholzer. “It’s a great opportunity. He understands he’ll have a bunch of opportunities and situations. He’s had an amazing life with a great family. It would be a home run for him. There’s nothing like coaching the team you grew up with, he worked with. And with what they’re trying to do and where they are.

“He’s just interesting because he’s so unique in that he is so true to player development and can really help players improve,” Budenholzer added about Atkinson. “The league has gotten a lot better with [development], but he’s one of the first — his ability doing it at a super-high level. And that’s married with a guy who has a great feel for the entire sport — five-on-five, game concepts, defensively and offensively. He has a very rare high ability to execute being a good player-developmental coach. Some people are very good at that and they’re not interested in the team stuff, five-on-five. It doesn’t click as well. Kenny does everything.”

Atkinson, who was let go by the Brooklyn Nets in March, spent four seasons prior to that as Budenholzer’s assistant on the Atlanta Hawks. That included Atlanta’s 60-win 2014-15 season where Budenholzer won Coach of the Year and the team sent a league-high four players to the NBA All-Star Game.

The 53-year-old Atkinson, indeed a widely-reputed talent development coach, appears to be gaining momentum for the Knicks job. While Tom Thibodeau remains the apparent frontrunner for the position, Atkinson might be the better fit for the team’s young roster of raw talent.

Report: Kenny Atkinson has legitimate support for Knicks head coaching job

Kenny Atkinson could be going from coaching one of New York’s two NBA teams to coaching the other in just a few months time.

Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reported Friday that the former Brooklyn Nets coach has “legitimate” support within the New York Knicks organization to earn their head coaching position.

Atkinson, 53, was fired by the Nets in March after four seasons as their coach. While his 118-190 record in Brooklyn was subpar, Atkinson helped the team right the ship from being stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference to returning to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a half-decade.

Widely lauded for his player and culture development skills, Atkinson ran into trouble in Brooklyn when it came to relating to his new superstar free agents. The Knicks, meanwhile, are a team of younger, less-established players, so Atkinson could be a good fit for them.

Still though, there is one notable presumed frontrunner for the Knicks job who is standing in Atkinson’s way.

D’Angelo Russell takes swipe at former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson

D’Angelo Russell came into his own as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but he is not giving the coach who oversaw it too much credit.

As part of a feature this week by Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Russell, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, took a swipe at ex-Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who was in charge for both of his seasons in Brooklyn.

“I’m not going to give it to Kenny,” said the 24-year-old Russell. “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.”

Krawczynski notes that Atkinson kept Russell on the bench early in his tenure with the Nets and that Russell feels Atkinson only went to him as a last resort when backcourt teammates Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris Levert were injured.

Regardless, Russell, who was traded to Brooklyn by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, enjoyed productive years there, especially in 2018-19. That season, he made 81 starts for the Nets, averaging 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game en route to his first career All-Star selection.

As for Atkinson, who was just fired by the Nets in March, there were some signs that he was not particularly well-liked by the team’s stars. Russell’s comments here may add further fuel to that theory.

David Fizdale appears to take shot at Nets players over Atkinson firing

David Fizdale

David Fizdale can empathize with Kenny Atkinson’s situation, and now he is implying that the former Brooklyn Nets head coach did not have enough support from his players.

In an recent appearance on ESPN Radio, the ex-New York Knicks coach Fizdale gave his opinion on the firing of Atkinson in Brooklyn.

“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,” Fizdale said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “And you have to have a certain amount of support for your coach so when things get turbulent.”

Fizdale also added that Atkinson’s firing was even more gutting than his own dismissal by the Knicks in December.

“It’s a punch to the gut to see a colleague like that who went through the mud with the organization and really started with the foundation and really helped build the team to where it is,” Fizdale said. “It as a kick in the stomach to hear that. Even more than my situation. I was 4-18. I can take it. I’m a big boy. But I think to see Kenny under the circumstances, they were seventh seed in the East, he had taken that team from a lot of Ls to now a team that was starting to become a regular in the playoffs … And to see that happen so abruptly, when it happened, the way it happened, it was a kick in the stomach.”

Indeed, Atkinson was surprisingly let go in the middle of his fourth season in charge despite the Nets being on the upswing with an injury-depleted roster and coming off their first playoff appearance since 2015. He was also one of the longer-tenured head coaches in the Eastern Conference, behind only Erik Spoelstra, Brad Stevens, and Brett Brown.

There were reports that some of Brooklyn’s stars had a hand in the firing, and Fizdale seems to think that his fellow coach got undeservingly snaked here.

Report: Kevin Durant had some influence in Kenny Atkinson being pushed out

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has not played in a game with the Brooklyn Nets and will wait until next season to debut with his new team, but the two-time NBA Finals MVP may have already played a major role in shaping the direction of the franchise.

The Nets announced on Saturday that they have mutually parted ways with Kenny Atkinson, but all indications have been that the coach was pushed out after failing to connect with his new star players. Kyrie Irving is said to have “soured” on Atkinson early on, and Durant was reportedly less than thrilled with the coach as well.

According to a new report from Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, Atkinson told his players and staff after last Wednesday’s 39-point blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that it was time for everyone to air their grievances. A spirited team meeting followed, and Durant spoke up about the bad habits he has seen and told the Nets they were not showing the proper traits needed to become a title contender. As The Athletic described, Durant’s lecture may have been the “most critical thing” that happened in the meeting.

Like Irving, Durant reportedly never made a connection with Atkinson. You could argue that it would be difficult for him to do that without playing, but watching from a distance may have given Durant an even better understanding of how things were going. Apparently Durant didn’t like what he saw, and The Athletic reports that there was a “growing belief that (Durant and Irving) did not have interest in playing for (Atkinson) when this team is whole again next season.”

The Nets were doing well and had improved each year under Atkinson before Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan arrived. It’s obvious that the dynamic changed once the superstars established themselves, and Atkinson even seemed to acknowledge that.

Now, the Nets have the difficult task of trying to find a coach who can connect with some high-maintenance stars while also developing younger players. They seemed to understand that they were taking that risk when they signed Irving.

DeAndre Jordan ‘shocked’ by Kenny Atkinson firing

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan is pushing back against reports that said some of the Brooklyn Nets’ players were responsible for Kenny Atkinson’s firing.

Atkinson mutually parted ways with the Nets on Saturday, which came towards the end of his fourth season as the team’s head coach. One report said some Nets players wanted him fired, while another said Kyrie Irving soured on Atkinson.

Jordan, who along with Irving and Kevin Durant signed with Brooklyn over the summer, called the report about Irving pushing out Atkinson “bulls—.” Jordan said there were multiple new players on the team and thought they all should be blamed if that was the case rather than Irving be singled out.

The veteran center also said he was “shocked” over the firing.

“I was definitely shocked,” Jordan told the New York Post. “I thought Kenny did a great job with us. This is my first year with him obviously and the guys who had been here love him, so I’m sure it’s tough for them. But at the end of the day, this is a business. Coaches get fired, players get cut, traded, whatever it is. So we still have a job to do.”

Common sense tells you the new players are the reason for Atkinson’s firing. The team was doing well and improving each year with him as their head coach before the new players joined. Then after the new players were signed, Atkinson started losing influence. Do you really think the Nets would get rid of Atkinson over complaints from Jordan, Garrett Temple or Wilson Chandler? No, they’d tell those guys to get in line. However, if Irving or Durant didn’t care for Atkinson’s methods, that would likely inspire such a change.

Report: Kyrie Irving soured on Kenny Atkinson, wants Ty Lue as Nets coach

Kyrie Irving Nets

The Brooklyn Nets ushered in a new era when they signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant over the summer, and they are going to end up with a new coach now too.

Kenny Atkinson and the Nets announced Saturday that they have mutually parted ways during what was Atkinson’s fourth season as the team’s head coach. A report said some Nets players wanted Atkinson fired. The coach acknowledged his voice was no longer as powerful as it once was.

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill wrote an article on Saturday saying as much. He says Irving “soured” on Atkinson early on and wants his former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Ty Lue, as the Nets’ next coach. Lue is currently an assistant with the Clippers.

What the Nets had built was attractive to Durant and Irving and played a big role in convincing them to sign with the team. But the culture of the team changed from young, unproven players to one with proven All-Stars when Durant and Irving joined, and it sounds like Irving was not buying into Atkinson’s ways. That helps explain why Atkinson would have been just as agreeable to leave since he felt powerless.

So far, we’ve seen Irving force a trade away from Cleveland; blow up the team chemistry in Boston; and now get a coach fired in Brooklyn. The Nets knew adding Irving was risky. Now it’s up to Kyrie and Durant to show next season that they were worth the investment.

Sean Marks: Kenny Atkinson acknowledged waning locker room influence

The Brooklyn Nets’ decision to fire coach Kenny Atkinson came as a surprise to many, and the organization is now trying to defend its decision.

General manager Sean Marks revealed in a press conference Saturday that Kenny Atkinson agreed that his influence in the locker room was waning, which helped lead to the firing.

We’re obviously relying on Marks’ interpretation of whatever Atkinson might have said. However, this appears to be the explanation the Nets are going with.

There is at least some reported evidence that Atkinson was losing the locker room. Still, with the Nets in a playoff spot, it definitely counts as a surprise.