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In surprise move, Nets fire head coach Atkinson, who helped rebuild team culture

Well, the Brooklyn Nets' era of "Markinson"--General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson--is over, after a surprising, even shocking, announcement yesterday that the coach and team had mutually "parted ways," widely seen as a firing.
It was the Markinson team that created the culture that led the Nets to overachieve, turning unheralded plays into stars or solid role players, positioning the team to recruit the superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant last summer. He got a contract extension last year.

With Durant out on injury rehab this year, and Irving playing (and dazzling in) only a fraction of games, the Nets in many ways overachieved this year, albeit with some puzzling performances. Hence some sardonic takes about the Nets' purported exceptionalism.

NetsDaily quoted Marks:
“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.”
Other intel is based on secondhand or anonymous sources--that some players wanted Atkinson gone, Irving in particular, and that owner Joe Tsai consulted players. (Some Nets stalwarts, like Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert, said they had no idea.) As the Daily News's Stefan Bondy pointed out, if Irving and Durant wanted Atkinson onboard, he would've stayed.

So it's a players' league--and a business.

It is the second abrupt move of the short-lived Tsai era; Nets/arena CEO David Levy was gone after two months. See this thread quoting former Nets executive Irina Pavlova suggesting analogies to start-ups entering a new phase, as well as pushback on the analogy.

For now, Jacque Vaughn--who also said he was surprised--is interim coach. The mid-season timing makes it easier for Atkinson to get a new job. And some think the New York Knicks, needing to rebuild, should hire Atkinson. After all, he lives in Cobble Hill.

dd

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