The Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson are parting ways, Shams Charania reports. In layman's terms, this usually means they're firing the coach at the three-quarter mark of the season. But the public relations apparatus is working very hard to make everyone believe that this is all perfectly normal and sometimes relationships just end.
It's interesting timing, considering the team's mission has basically been to bide time and hope Kevin Durant returns and still looks like one of the best players in basketball post-injury.
Brooklyn is 28-34 and in seventh place in the East. It would take a significant collapse for them to miss the playoffs. Atkinson, in his third year, has done a decent job keeping the train on the track without Durant and without Irving, who is out for the year after playing in only 20 games.
Jacque Vaughn will take over at the helm and get the honor of facing one of the top teams in the East while hoping to avoid a sweep. Then it's anyone's guess.
Atkinson is a valued commodity for franchises looking to rebuild or maximize youthful rosters. With Durant and Irving back next season, though, the calculus changes. They wouldn't have teamed up to come to New York City if winning immediately wasn't an expectation. The true extent of their power to pull strings is a bit opaque but it stands to reason they'll have a great deal of input on the Nets' long-term sideline solution.
Is it Mark Jackson, who is rumored to be itching to make the jump from television to managing? Could it be Ty Lue, who has experience with Irving and big personalities, albeit with rocky results? Or will the Nets go a less splashy route?
No matter what happens, no one can deny that parting ways was a smart thing to do. Brooklyn simply could not sit idly by and allow the Knicks to have all the drama and whispers of dysfunction during this particular news cycle.